Zig Ziglar, notable motivational speaker:
You can get what you want if you help others get what they want. 

Highlights from SBWC2018 Platform Building Panel

The following are highlights from SBWC2018 Platform Building Panel. I only had time to transcribe the bare bones of this 68-minute hour so I hope it’s helpful. Four authors and one marketer discussed platform building strategies and useful tools, most all suggestions were connected to developing a strong social media presence.

Eric Edson, Screenwriter/professor and author of The Story Solution: “Your platform takes years to build so start building!” Cathy Byrd, a mom with no writing experience, per se, and one amazing story! Her memoir The Boy Who Knew Too Much, will also be made into a film. Follow her trail and watch what she does, a good way to learn. Janet Rendall: Indie/self pub’ed author who travels in real time to find her Route 66 To the Milkyway reading tribe. Her advice to writers is wise: If you need it, take a community college course on digital marketing/social media, JUST DO IT! She did! Taylor Reaume is a marketer and founder of Search Engines Pros, his company helps build and expand authors platforms. He is Eric Edson’s webmaster and if you want to study a well designed website, study Eric Edson’s.

TOPICS briefly discussed:

Trailers, Yes or No? The panelists tended to agree that trailers can be helpful, however creating a book trailer can be pricy. Cathy spent $5000 and her book trailer was picked up by People Magazine. But remember, her story about her son is quite remarkable.

Target readers who will potentially buy your book. Janet’s sci-fi novel/travelogue about Route 66 appeals to older readers familiar with the drive so that’s where she puts her energy, in ‘real time’ travel and on the web.

Taylor discussed author goals: 1. drive traffic to website 2. convert visitors to subscribers/readers. He also discussed (briefly) Keywords: Learn the meaning and merit of keywords. Taylor suggests writers create a list of words connected to your story, select 50 from that list and then 10 from the list of 50. Always publish around those keywords. On your website, ALL articles you pen should include at least one of those chosen keyword(s).


GoDaddy.com a good site to purchase URLs. GoDaddy also has a service, GoCentral, an ‘easy to build’ website that’s inexpensive and also offers tech help (for a reasonable price) Book Covers. Our panelists recommend www.99designs.com Book Reviews are important but remember authors, if you self publish, you will pay for them and they aren’t cheap. Kirkus is $550.00. Videos and interviews add value to your website. ‘Giveaways’ also add value. Eric Edson gives away the first chapter of Story Structure to everyone who subscribes to his website. In 2010, I began to ‘giveaway’ query letter critiques. Quick QueryCritiques, on YouTube,  videos of me reading your letter and then delivering about 5-7 minutes worth of critique. After doing about 200, I started charging a reasonable rate. They can be found on my youtube channel and writers often say watching them is like being in a workshop,so have your notebook handy. And they’re all free. Speaking of YouTube: ‘FilmCourage’ is loaded with professionals sharing experiences in the film industry. Eric Edson has several hours logged there. Take a look at the number of followers there. Remember, when you give something of value you are likely to get something of value. Eric’s URL (and where readers can purchase his book) is included in these FilmCourage interviews, one more way to capture emails and grow your list. My way of capturing emails is by offering new subscribers to www.MarlaMiller.com a 45 minute video query letter critique workshop I taught at a community college . It’s a solid query letter writing primer.


Press coverage: For most new authors, start locally.

Mailchimp.com is a free mail delivery service that’s fairly easy to use. Constantcontact.com is another service but it’s not free.

Merrill4Marketing.com Resource for postcards and book buying extras.

Marketing Costs: Hiring a marketer knowledgeable about digital marketing will be costly,  $10-12,000.00 is the fee range for Taylor’s company and he’s competitive.

Get to know and/or understand Google Analytics.

Book Blog Tours: Tour the country from your desktop! These sites are hard to guest on -they are very picky-but worth your effort. CatherineRyanHyde.com is a resource. She’s a big fan of cyber book blogging tours.

Goodreads: Good place to giveaway books but the learning curve is a bit steep. Ask a writer pal to show you how and in return, be prepared to ‘trade’ something of value that you can deliver to her/him.

Blogs, should or shouldn’t you? If you blog, blog consistently and remember it takes on average of seven times knocking on potential readers’ e-doors before they/we pay attention to you. Blog post goals: Deliver value of some kind and/or educate.

Follow the leaders in your genre! Support them by liking their content/information, etc.

Book Award sites: Winning an award helps, doesn’t it?  Here a few award sites. Not free….

  • National Indie Excellence Awards https://www.indieexcellence.com/
  • THE IBPA BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AWARD™ PROGRAM http://ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.com/
  • ShelfMediaBookAwards http://www.shelfmediagroup.com/pages/contest-winners.html

Book Blurbs: With RARE exception, asking a notable person for a book blurb without a publisher onboard is a waste of time. First, get the publishing contract, then ask. Why? The answer is obvious, right? Unless they’re your friend, why would a notable person read your book before the stamp of approval of a book contract? They wouldn’t. That said, blurbs are VERY valuable so make a wish list and then follow those notables in social media.

Remember Zig Ziglar’s mantra: You can get what you want if you help others get what they want. 


You will need to be intimately involved in the above and mindful of it all regardless of publishing road you travel. Our  21st century reality.

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