Amanda Luedeke

January 10, 2013

Thursdays with Amanda: Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse


Amanda 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.

Well, with a new year, comes a new me. So say “hello” to my more current photo.

This week, I wanted to share something that I have found particularly effective when it comes to growing platform…

Do you remember those months ago when I offered Free Social Media Critiques?

And then do you recall, if you follow my Facebook group, the other week when I gave Free One-Liner Critiques?

I did both of these things to be nice. And to gain trust. But I mostly did them to grow my platform.

Let’s look at the numbers.

I received roughly 115 comments on my Social Media Critique promo. That’s around 100 people (some commented more than once) who not only interacted with me online, but who were then driven to come back every Thursday in hopes that their site would be reviewed. (I’m still working through the list…just taking a break for now).

The post was shared quite a bit on Twitter and through other venues, and the coolest part is that it attracted NEW readers to the blog. In other words, in exchange for a bit of my time, I got new readers, positioned myself as an expert, and got my name out among people who are not closely linked to me. Pretty cool.

(Not to mention, I got free blog fodder for the rest of my life).

Now, the Facebook promo was even more of a success.

I had around 650 likes before the promo. In days, that number jumped to 750. My post was shared a whopping 86 TIMES on Facebook, and even more so elsewhere. It saw 145 comments and was viewed by 1,474 people. This means that in a sense, it went viral. It went well beyond it’s immediate reach of 650. That week, my FB page reached 5,940 people. What’s even cooler is my next big status in which I asked “What author, living or dead, would you have coffee with?” was seen by 1,741 people.


So what does this have to do with you?

Find what you’re good at. Find that thing that you can offer that your readers will gobble up. Ask yourself “where am I an expert?” and if that thing you’re an expert at ties in with your book, use it to grow your readership.

Nonfiction authors should do this ALL THE TIME. If you’re working on a book on financial stability, and you’re certified and educated and have all your ducks in a row, offer simple things for free. Things that you merely need to give an opinion on. Things Suze Orman would offer.

Fiction authors can do this if their books tie in to their hobbies. Let’s say you write a cozy mystery series that involves baking. Well, you can give away recipes or baking tips or you can answer baking questions for free.

It’s about giving away the goods, and in return, getting followed, liked, Tweeted and shared.

Yes, it takes effort. Yes, it can be time-consuming. But nothing comes easily! And it’s worth it.

What skills do YOU have that can be used to grow your platform?

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  • Amanda, I would have sworn it was your new headshot was really your high school yearbook photo. Saw you in the lounge at ACFW talking with someone, and thought “She’ll be carded until she’s 40.”
    That having been said, good advice re social media. Thanks for sharing.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Hah!! Yes. So true. I had my 29th birthday, and the waitress thought I was turning 21. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for reading!

  • Cherry Odelberg says:

    Now would be a good time to thank you again for the social media critiques. I visited and lurked at many sites I would not otherwise have stumbled on. Traveling is always fun. Guided by your comments (Amanda), I gathered new ideas and information and experienced fresh thoughts on how your comments might (or might not) apply to my individual voice.

  • :Donna Marie says:

    It was so weird when, as soon as I signed onto the blog and first saw a different picture of Chip and initially couldn’t tell if it was him (without the beard!), I thought the internet went wacky! lol Both new pics are great and I’m glad you explained WHY the pics were changed ’cause I couldn’t imagine the reason lol

    Anyway, I’m gradually putting together my blog, but life is always getting in the way (caring for a sick family member being one thing). I only have the theme colors and header done, having done my own artwork for it. Its features aren’t concrete yet, though I’m pretty decided on how it will go, though wasn’t able to think of an “unusual” niche. Just now, though, after reading your post, then all the comments, the thing that came to mind is giving away illustrations (small and simple) since I’m also an illustrator. I am unpublished as a writer (other than articles, poems, etc.) so there’s nothing “expert” to give away in that respect. Maybe I can say “you never know—the illustrations may be worth something someday” πŸ˜‰

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yes, giving away illustrations would be great!! And I wouldn’t only focus on wall art, but on illustrations that could be used for party invites, scrapbooking, etc πŸ™‚

    • :Donna Marie says:

      Hmmmm…I was thinking they would probably have my characters in them, so, although they’re registered, I’m not sure I should be doing anything that someone would use to print. Is that what you mean, Amanda? I’m thinking only wall art (though someone doesn’t have to hang it)—more of a “collectible” type thing.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yeah, that would be fine, too. I wasn’t thinking of using your characters, but instead of creating something different that showcases your talent and would attract new people to your social media sites…I guess I just wonder how much character art will attract NEW fans. I’d say it’s something to think about. but at the end of the day, you need to do what’s most do-able for you!

    • :Donna Marie says:

      Oh, I see what you mean! I’ll have to think about how to go about it, ’cause I also don’t want to be spending too much time actually DOING the artwork. I want to keep the whole “social media” part of my life at a minimum, not wanting it to get out of hand and taking over my life lol Thanks so much, Amanda! πŸ™‚

    • :Donna Marie says:

      Amanda, I hope you’re still reading this!
      I was hoping you could answer this question, if there is, indeed, an answer! I’m guessing it’s dependent on what type of giveaway you have, but is there an optimum frequency for giveaways that would determine their success? Once a week? Bi-monthly? Monthly? If I give away illustrations, I want to do that as infrequently as possible, yet frequently enough to make a positive impact.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      You don’t want to always be giving stuff away, otherwise there won’t be an urgency behind your actions. I say once a month or once every two months, depending on how many followers you have, but be sure to be specific with your requests for those who enter. Make them Tweet, Facebook, blog and Pin about the giveaway. Make them work for their entry.

    • :Donna Marie says:

      Thank you SO much, Amanda πŸ™‚ I really appreciate your expert advice on this. I have a friend who’s a stellar blogger (big following, previous R.A. for the NJ SCBWI for 10 years) and really knows her stuff. She recently had people doing that type stuff with tweeting, etc. It makes sense and automatically gets you more exposure πŸ˜€
      I could definitely do a giveaway once a month. Just yesterday I looked into how much it would cost to have 8×10 prints of my work. It’s doable πŸ˜€ Thank you, thank you, thank you! πŸ˜€

  • Oh, your new picture is so cute!

    On Go Teen Writers they were all abuzz about the one-liner critique you did. You definitely have some fans over there πŸ™‚

    Thanks for this post and for sharing your numbers. Gives me much to think about…

  • Hm. I’d love to do query critiques, since I love critiquing, but since I’m not a *published* author yet, I don’t feel I have the street cred to offer that yet (though I have done that for a few along the way). Really, the biggest thing I have to offer is my writing. But I do share author interviews, homeschool stories, and marriage thoughts on my blog. These tie in with my writing and homeschooling life, and real marriages are a theme in all my novels. I try not to focus on Viking historical information (though I have links on my page and FB), since that novel is still out on submission and I’m not locked in to historical fiction yet.

    There you go, my entire bloggy life story! Sorry about that! Just thinking out loud.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      One thing to keep in mind is that writers aren’t readers. They aren’t going to buy your books. So you want to target your readers. I say go crazy with the homeschool thing. There are lots of tips/worksheets/etc that you could offer for free and get a good response.

    • Cherry Odelberg says:

      I agree, writers aren’t going to buy the books; but, might another writer be a good beta sort of reader?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Sure, they might be. But it’s best to have a beta group of critiquers you trust. At least that’s what’s worked for me.

  • Oooo! You are so savy. Great ideas. Now the question is, what do I have that other people want? Hmmmm.

  • Lisa Van Engen says:

    Great tips and ideas. Your critique of my hook immensely helped me. (The free blog fodder scares me though! I’m pretty sure as a new writer, I give lots of fodder.) I’ll be giving much thought to what skills I can offer this new year. Thank you!

  • Jeremy Myers says:

    Great post, as always.

    I have begun to write primarily to give away books to those who subscribe to my email newsletter.

    In the past 18 months, I have given away 5 books. On this last one, I gave out over 1000 copies in five days! During that time, I also gained about 100 new subscribers to my email newsletter list, and about 50 new subscribers to my RSS feed.

    So giving away quality stuff is a great way to build your audience and platform. It is definitely worth it.

  • Leigh Delozier says:

    Two rings with purple stones play a big role in my MG novel. Maybe I should learn to make jewelry. πŸ™‚ Or, years ago I did a lot of tole painting on wood. Maybe I could paint small boxes the winners could keep trinkets in. It would tie in with the book’s title – The Ring Keepers.

    You’ve got me thinking now…

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      This type of thing is definitely harder for fiction authors, but you never know! Maybe the right thing will hit you.

  • Tessa says:

    Hi Amanda,
    I chose to give the prequel to my novel away via people who sign up to get my e-mails. I give something of value to my readers, and they get hooked and want to read the full novel!

  • Melissa Tagg says:

    Amanda, you are a platform-building queen. Woohoo! Love the new photo, too. Sadly, my novel is about a homebuilder and I don’t know anything about building homes. I am incredibly intimidated just walking into a place like Home Depot. BUT I did buy a chainsaw last year, so maybe I can somehow use that in my fun platform-building/marketing stuff…hmm…brain is pinging…

    • Rajdeep Paulus says:

      Melissa, go and take a few courses they offer at Home Depot. Then jump in on a Habitat project and show off your skills. Make some connections. And work your tan while you hang off the roof while you’re at it. Just a thought. Or two. πŸ™‚ You know me… -Raj

    • Melissa Tagg says:

      Haha, love the ideas, Raj! Especially the part about hanging out on a roof working on my tan… πŸ™‚

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Hahaha…yeah it would be sweet if you could giveaway DIY instructions and such. But….hey, maybe you could give away gift wrapping tips πŸ˜›

    • Melissa Tagg says:

      Ha! You mean, gift wrapping tips that I actually steal from you and plagiarize as my own?? πŸ™‚ I did think about doing some funny DIY things for the craft/housekeeping/woodworking-impaired, though. That could be fun!

  • Cindy Thomson says:

    I always learn something new from you, Amanda. Thanks! I’m thinking about how I can use my genealogy know-how and knowledge about immigrate ancestors. Hmm…

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