Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"With a little help from your friends"

When Siggy asked me if I'd like to write something for Writers Get Together, my immediate response was “I'd love to!”

Upon further thought, I realized this meant I'd have to come up with something to write. Between writing novels and thinking up mildly clever or vaguely informative things for my own blog, I volunteered to write for someone else's? Crap. Yes, she said I could re-post something from mine, but that didn't seem like the answer – if people want to read that, they can go to my blog, right? I could also post an excerpt from my book, but that didn't sit right, either, because I already spend so much time at shameless self-promotion.

Hmm: promotion. Now there's a thought.

You can read author blogs ad nauseum that will tell you the elements needed to find success in the world of independent (and particularly electronic) publishing: a well-written book, eye-catching cover, intriguing blurb, precise formatting, luck. And a platform.

A platform is like a following – people who will buy your book, read it and share it with their friends, relatives, neighbours, co-workers, the kid down the street and the meter maid. And hopefully everyone else they meet.

“That sounds easy,” I sez reading that.

So out I go into the world of Facebook and Twitter, friending everyone I can find, following everyone with a pulse. More than 1300 people agree to be my friend (see, Ma? I'm popular!), but only people related to me follow on Twitter. That's okay, though, because now I have a platform.

I start sharing news and links to my book, telling people about my blog. I tweet clever quotations, share funny pictures. And what happens? Do my book sales skyrocket? Do people start knocking at my door asking to be my friend? Do tweeps start following me in droves?


Select members of my family share my FB posts with their 97 friends (most of whom are my friends, too). A few people I know take the time to click the little 'like' icon at the bottom of my posts, declaring to the world their affinity for whatever I had to say. My ten-year-old daughter tells all her school friends what a great writer her Daddy is (God bless her). My Mom tells me she'd retweet anything I have to say...if she was on Twitter.

Okay, indie publishing gurus, how is this going to help me become successful enough to quit my job and write full-time?

It won't.

The secret to successful promo in the social media world rests in the power of the group. My platform + your platform + his platform + her platform = success.

Does anyone remember the old Pert shampoo commercial with the amazing multiplying woman? “She tells two friends, then she tells two friends, and so on, and so on.” All those tiny woman heads in that commercial added together made for many sales for Pert shampoo, but only because they each told two friends. If I tell my friends, and you tell your friends, and they tell their friends...and then we do it again. For you, for me, for her, for him.

I like to do the Twitter math. When I share a link to my blog, 153 people potentially see it (yeah, I still don't have that many followers, but it's growing). For my last post, I saw my link retweeted at least 7 times, increasing the number of eyes potentially seeing it to over 2500 sets. Far more impact.

But be warned, fellow indies, this can't be done selfishly. Truly care about helping your peers, put their success ahead of yours, and you may be happily surprised at the results. For everybody.

To that end, my platform is your platform. Drop me a line if you'd like to guest on my blog, tag me when you have an important link to share, DM me when you have something to retweet.

It's a big, scary world out there, indie authors and readers who read us, but together we can survive and thrive.

Indie authors of the world unite! And together we'll take over the world!

Mwah, ha ha ha.

Find Bruce Blake at:


  1. Great post and great concepts Bruce.

  2. Significant post Bruce. Social media is important for writers as long as writers remember to be helpful, collaborative, supportive of one another and giving, as you suggested. When that happens, old media is trumped and new media gains dominance. Traditional media which has reigned and has hampered the writing community is faltering. Just today there was an announcement that the government is suing 5 publishers, including Apple for price-fixing. There is a new game in town...Amazon, ebooks, indie writers, the innovative writing community who is establishing its own pricing model and undercutting publishers who have made it impossible for them. There is a direct relationship writers have with consumers (pricing their ebooks at 1.99 or .99) bypassing the middle men publishers who made the profits; publishers' greed and oppression has caused this and that relationship is now closing out traditional publishing, lowering their profits and "necessitating" price-fixing to compete. The paradigm is shifting.
    As writers we can harness the power of social media to create our own dominance and independence. Writers are also readers. Somehow, traditional publishing forgot this...new publishers like Amazon have not. Through social media the writing community will grow and support itself as readers and writers and the word will exponentially spread, starting slowly at first then bam... I look at how the Huffington Post did it. Social media helped to put it on the map. Petition sites like Change.org? The same. Social media broadcasts exponentially. Cable subscriptions, mainstream TV? Dwindling. Continued paradigm shift...that will grow with mobile devices. I am so glad and so happy to see this growth to drub the traditionals. Eventually, they will have to stand up and smell the roses...and begin to innovate and move away from artistically nullifying practices (like slush piling scores of writers)...or be out of business.

    Sorry for the rant. Totally hyped up by your post, Bruce. Siggy...here's my blog: http://www.thefatandtheskinnyonwellness.com/ (thanks for giving it a look see and joining.
    Here's the article I wrote for Technorati about the Justice Department threatening to sue publishers for price-fixing...

    http://technorati.com/business/article/justice-department-threatens-to-sue-apple/ (Today ...they sued.)

  3. Great to see comments here. You can also get a conversation going on our FB page https://www.facebook.com/WritersGetTogether