Chip MacGregor

August 23, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Use Tumblr to Grow an Author Platform


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

We’ve talked before about blogging, but this week I wanted to cover something called microblogging.

Microblogging is exactly what it sounds like…it’s a smaller, more condensed form of blogging. Images are usually the focus of such microblogs, but they can also be text-based.

Here are some of my favorite microblogs:

  • KateMiddletonForTheWin – I have a major girlcrush on Kate. But these make me laugh every time.
  • SlushPile Hell – I wish I would have thought of this first.
  • Clients From Hell – Maybe it’s my marketing background that makes this microblog so appealing? I don’t think any of the microposts surprised me. They just fueled my rage.

By now you should have a small understanding of microblogging…short posts, centered around a theme (whether visual or theoretical). And if you noticed, each of the examples I gave use Tumblr as their site’s service provider. It’s really the leading host for this approach to blogging.

Okay, so why should authors care about microblogging?

  1. It’s quick. Constructing a traditional blog post can take hours, depending on how finicky you are. Microblogging takes a fraction of that time, using a fraction of those words.
  2. It’s focused. I know I keep hounding you about having a goal…well, microblogging is a great example of a medium that simply won’t work without a goal. It practically forces you to choose a topic, preventing you from microblogging about flowers one day, Mozart the next, then your dog, then your deep thoughts on black holes followed by a reposted tribute to AC/DC.
  3. It’s clean. No fancy backgrounds. No design expertise needed. Just clean and simple…ideal for the digital n00b.

But how can Tumblr and microblogging grow your author platform?

Think about what you write. Think really deeply about it. Ask yourself…

  • What’s my genre?
  • Who reads what I write?
  • What stage of life are they in?
  • What hobbies do my characters have that could also appeal to the target reader?
  • What unique elements/themes/storylines are in my book?

Answer these questions, and you’ll start to see the beginnings of a great microblog. For example, let’s answer them with Amish or small town fiction in mind:

  • What’s my genre? Amish/Small Town Fiction
  • Who reads what I write? Women, ages 35-60
  • What stage of life are they in? Married, moms, approaching retirement. Some have lots of free time, others have limited free time, but each reader is looking to find/maintain/rediscover their personal interests
  • What hobbies do my characters have that could also appeal to the target reader? Quilting, baking, horses
  • What unique elements/themes/storylines are in my book? Cowboys/farm boys, small town girl/boy in big city and vice versa, etc.

Based on these answers alone, you could develop a number of microblogs. You’ll have to find one that fits your lifestyle, of course. If you don’t have access to horses or know a thing about quilting, then you’re limited. But the goal is to extract themes, hobbies and lifestyle ideals from your novel and develop microblogs that speak to them visually and/or textually.

What microblogs could YOU develop for your latest WIP?


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  • Theresa Lode says:

    Amanda- I am reading though the SlushPile Hell blog and am just howling. (Oh wait, that’s the 200 freakin’ malamutes sheltered across the road from me. But I digress.)
    Thanks for the mention- It’s providing some much-needed laughter.

  • simmerartist says:

    Actually, Andrew, I’m not a fan of anything that will encourage a shortened attention span, but I do think that a microblog (this was my first time hearing it) is a great tool because the internet IS a place of “blips” and the need of “short and quick” because there is way too much info for us to absorb or want to get through. I would prefer writing something short for a blog so I can actually GET to writing my own long novels instead.
    Over the years I’ve signed up (or wanted to) for many blog newsletters because the info was good, but the fact of the matter is, my life doesn’t allow time for the knowledge, entertainment, etc. I crave to absorb. It’s that craving and interest that makes us click from one thing to the next to the next, and when we start reading (especially the long stuff), we’ve spent that many more hours on the internet. Meanwhile, I have REAL life calling to me, backing up and needing to be addressed, including the many books I want to read. I don’t sleep enough and wish I didn’t have to so I can fit it all in. It’s all quite the dilemma, I think πŸ™

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      AND yet another interesting tidbit…this younger generation is the most readingest generation yet. So yes, they like things to be quick and accessible, but the Internet is grooming future generations to actually READ. And the success of the YA market with Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter…has proven it’s working.

    • Andrew Winch says:

      Be careful, Simmer! An interesting tidbit pertaining to over-stimulation from being bombarded for long hours on the internet is “popcorn brain syndrome.” Here’s an interesting quote from “CNN reports today that David Levy, a professor with the Information School at the University of Washington, calls this syndrome the “popcorn brain”. Our brains are so used to a constant stimulation, multitasking, speed and quantity of new content available online, that the life outside the net appears to be less and less suitable for this fast pace. It becomes boring.”
      The end result? Death of gray matter and limited critical thinking ability. πŸ™‚ Yay for the internet!

  • Andrew Winch says:

    I’m legitimately wondering what the widespread implications of shortened attention span are on our society. I just jumped on board with Splickety magazine, one of several flash fiction (under 1,000 words) magazines that seem to be flourishing at the moment, and you’re talking about microblogs, and there are countless other examples. How long until full-length novels are obsolete? On another note, I can’t imagine being cynical enough to write an entire blog focusing on the stupid things clients/patients/humans say and do, mostly because of miscommunication. I’d go crazy, or have to start buying black-market Zoloft.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      An interesting factoid…serial publications used to be really popular. It’s how Dickens got his start. So the whole “short and sweet” method has been in publishing for awhile. πŸ™‚

    • Andrew Winch says:

      Well, sure. Serials and short stories. But people seem to be pushing the limits of what “short stories” are, and a large portion of fiction magazines won’t even accept serials, because their readers don’t want to (or can’t) remember what they read a week ago. It’s not that I’m concerned, or even think there’s a definite trend, but (as always) it’ll be interesting to see how the writing/publishing world satisfies their readers in the years to come.

  • Judith Robl says:

    I’d heard of Tumblr, but never encountered it before. Thank you, Amanda, for expanding my horizons.

  • simmerartist says:

    OK, I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that SlushPile Hell may have something to do with Chip! lol

  • simmerartist says:

    Amanda and Chip, I am ALways appreciative of the words of wisdom you pass on through your many blog posts, but this time I’m especially thanking you for the link you posted for SlushPile Hell. I am STILL reading the pages of posts and have literally been rolling and crying with laughter. I’ve passed this to a bunch of authors and a few editors and agents I know because I simply HAD to pass this around. It’s too good not to! LMAO!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      It’s the best when I forget to read SlushPile Hell for a few months and then have TONS of awesome posts to catch up on. Plus, it’s a great Friday distraction πŸ™‚

  • Johnnie Alexander Donley says:

    I’ve spent most of the evening giggling about the Kate captions, the crazy queries, and the clueless clients. Thanks for sharing your favorite microblogs.

  • CharityHawkins says:

    I’ve been thinking about this lately, but with Facebook as the tool. I just read Paris In Love, a memoir in which mainly the author’s Facebook posts are woven into a vibrant narrative. I realized I could use short snippets, vivid vignettes that work together around related themes. For my audience, those are mainy motherhood, home, family. I won’t get into microblogging yet, because I can’t think about one more thing, but I think those same concepts could be applied to Facebook to make it less boring status updates, more compelling short writing around a theme. Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts) does this with photos on FB and I think it works well for her audience. Do you think it’s a fair comparison to microblogging?
    Thanks for great marketing tips. Looking forward to ACFW!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I think it depends on how your friends/fans USE Facebook. When I’m on FB, I’m not interested in reading anything more than a few sentences long. But when I’m on a microblog or blog, I’m in a different mindset. I’m more willing to read. So think about how your audience uses Facebook, and you’ll know whether they’d be open to reading chunks from you.

  • I’d never heard of microblogging before, Amanda. I’ll be keeping this info handy. Thanks!

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