Chip MacGregor

January 12, 2012

Thursday with Amanda: Growing a Platform Is Like Dominos


Amanda 2 CropNOTE: Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

So now you know what to shoot for in terms of numbers (if you missed it, last Thursday we talked about how big an author platform should be). But as many of you pointed out, those numbers seem impossible. The time and effort required to grow such a following had some of you envisioning yourself with an impressive platform sometime in the year 2030. While others flat out admitted that they didn’t have a single sales bone in their body. You’re artists, after all. And artists don’t always make the most sociable, friendly, outgoing, spin doctoring bunch.

So what’s the secret? How can these numbers be achieved?

Let me explain it like this…most authors, when embarking on a quest to tackle the platform demon, treat it like spaghetti. They throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. They start a Facebook group, a Twitter account, a blog, a website, a Goodreads account, a newsletter and on and on and on until they feel they have all of the possible platform-building areas covered.

And then they’re surprised when nothing happens. When their Facebook group hovers around 50 followers—most of which are personal or family friends. When their Twitter account has more spam followers than real followers and their website stats don’t climb above 30 visits a day. They’re surprised by this, because they’re doing everything they’re supposed to do and nothing is working. And more than anything, they’re exhausted. They’ve spread themselves so thin, they can barely keep track of what was said where. At this point, most give up. They tried their best, and it didn’t work.

But platform is nothing like spaghetti. It’s more like a game of dominos (as in the game in which you set them all up and they fall over). Select one thing. One thing out of that list of 10 or so possibilities. Pour all you have into that one thing. Your time, your creativity, your resources. Stick with it, and when it starts to go, you’ll find that if you already have some of the other platform-related areas set up (most of us do), they’ll start to grow with it. And if you don’t have those areas yet set up, then you’ll find that it’s that much easier to get them going.

More importantly, you’ll find that you won’t be selling your soul to SOCIAL MEDIA. Sure, it takes sacrifice and commitment. But focusing on one thing and doing it well will save you from burning out and giving up.

Ok, so I know your next question is going to be how? How do I grow my Facebook? My Twitter? My blog?

We’ll get there. Come back next Thursday and we’ll start to talk about the how. See you then!

P.s. I loved the discussion last week. Feel free to weigh in again!

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  • Boy, do I relate with the — I’m an artist without sales bones:) concept. And the spaghetti thing — been there, done that. And the spread-thin, which is an ongoing problem. I’ve managed to connect my blog/website, Facebook page, Twitter so I don’t have to do too much and legit followers are slowly growing, but at a cost that I don’t think I can keep up. So — looking forward to next week’s post!

  • Gina Holmes says:

    I’ve always been the type to focus on my weaknesses and try to make those stronger, and that’s not bad, but I read recently a new concept for me that has changed my thinking. (I so wish I could remember what book I’d read it in!). Focusing on what we do well may be more productive was this writer’s thoughts and there’s a lot of wisdom in that. Not just in writing but in life. 

  • Raj Paulus says:

    Hi Amanda! Thanks for the continued great info and goals to work toward! Just curious, how often do you suggest a writer BLOG? I shoot for one to two new posts weekly since several readers told me they were having trouble keeping up. I know some writers have a daily theme that directs their posts. I’m still trying to hone in one key theme for my Blog and hoping my stories and writing offer something unique out there in the fog of blogs!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Raj, All the big-time successful bloggers blog every business day. So that’s the ideal. But I’ll be talking more about this when I write about blogging 🙂

  • marian green says:

    What a challenge! I just saw this and linked back to last week’s post. The most ‘mysterious’ element of all this is that people ask you to speak when you have accomplished literary or inspirational merit. People seek out your work once they have heard you speak! Some days, I feel like a pup chasing my tail, hoping I’ll bump into a few of those dominoes so they will begin to fall. I appreciate the goals you put forth and the tools you are giving so we don’t remain unaware. Great insight.

    Wonderful, wonderful advice about finding what works and focusing in on one thing. For me, using FB to link to blogs has been the most productive. I say that with a smile as I’m only 29,000 visitors a month away from the goal. No biggie.

  • Paula says:

    I never thought of just using one social media tool, but that makes a lot of sense. Guess I should also go ahead and delete at least one of my five Twitter accounts to focus on just one of them : )

    Thanks for this article, it was really informative!

  • Ruth Douthitt says:

    Great advice! It can get overwhelming, but I find that hash tags on Twitter have helped me tremendously. Retweeting interesting posts helps too. I have met wonderful writers who have provided tips for me. My platform is growing a little at a time! 

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Hashtags will be a huge part of when we get to talking about Twitter. You’re right on track.

  • A great book that is written for authors I highly recommend is by Kristen Lamb titled We Are Not Alone The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. She gives great tips on Twitter as well. Of all the books I’ve read on marketing, this one really broke it down, giving me a specific plan to follow for my writing.

  • Tanya Dennis says:

    I like the analogy of dominos. It definitely feels that way. Once momentum is released, everything else seems to fall in place much more easily. 

    I know you’re going to talk about the “how” next week, but I do have a question. When and how do you recommend directing people to old material? Everyone says to stay fresh and current, but sometimes good, solid posts get lost in time when their truths are still applicable. Is this a viable means of staying visible?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yes, We’ll talk about that, but linking to old material is especially good in blogging. It helps establish your blog’s credibility.

  • Jean Wise says:

    Yes your numbers last week created quite a buzz in many writing circles and many did find them discouraging.  I have been building a platform for several years now and agree it does takes time and is best grown slowly. I would suggest starting with whatever the writer is most comfortable with.  I began with my speaking and my blog and really enjoyed both.  Facebook and twitter are just add-ons now. 

  • This was really, really good advice!

  • karenrobbins says:

    Our ACFW Ohio cluster group met this afternoon for lunch and talked about your numbers from last week. Looking forward to your insights for reaching them.

  • Excellent advice, Amanda! And freeing too. I look forward to your future posts!

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