Writer Get Noticed!
Colleen M. Story
MidChannel Press (2019)
Colleen M. Story inspires writers to overcome modern-day challenges and find creative fulfillment in their work. Her first non-fiction book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, was named Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book in 2018, and her novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, among others. Her latest release, Writer Get Noticed!, was a gold-medal winner in the 2019 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards for writing and publishing, and a recent 1st-place winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards. With over 20 years in the creative industry, Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) and Writer CEO (writerceo.com). Please see her author website (colleenmstory.com) or follow her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).
Hi Colleen, thank you for joining us today at Reader Views. To start, tell us a bit about Writer Get Noticed! What inspired you to write Writer Get Noticed!?
In my work with writers, I’ve learned one thing: most of us don’t enjoy marketing. We love to write, edit, and see our books in print, but when it comes to trying to sell them, we cringe at the prospect and then find all kinds of ways to avoid marketing-related tasks.
In today’s publishing industry, it’s up to us to build a platform and get our work noticed. Most of us try to do what others tell us to do, including things like creating Facebook and Amazon ads, conducting giveaways, offering pricing deals (for those who are self-published), planning elaborate book launches, giving readings, going on blog tours, and the like.
Typically a writer may enjoy one or two of these activities, but often the effort put into marketing ends up feeling like drudgery. When that effort fails to produce a substantial amount of books sold, we can get discouraged, and those negative feelings can then bleed over into the rest of our writing work.
I find this whole scenario heartbreaking, so I wanted to offer writers another option—marketing in a way that works with their personalities and strengths. Writer Get Noticed! helps writers create a marketing plan they can enjoy, as then their efforts are more likely to be successful.
Writer Get Noticed! talks about the importance of creating an author platform. For new and emerging authors – what is an author platform?
A platform is simply an author’s ability to get people’s attention. Celebrities, for instance, have successful platforms. Publishers love to publish their books because celebrities have a ready-made audience ready to buy that book.
Most writers don’t have that sort of following—at least not at first. So we have to find a way to get people’s attention. We do that by creating a unique niche for ourselves and then using that niche to attract readers and others who may be interested in our work. The more people who are interested the more successful the author platform.
Who is your target audience, first-time writers, seasoned authors – who will benefit from this book?
Both beginning and seasoned writers can find themselves in a situation where they don’t enjoy marketing their work. The solution is to come up with a personalized plan, and that’s what the book helps authors do.
As a side benefit, Writer Get Noticed! also gives writers insight into their strengths both on and off the page, which can be eye-opening even for authors who’ve been in the business for years.
There are countless craft books on writing available – how does Writer Get Noticed! stand out (get noticed) in the crowd?
Rather than advise writers to go through all the usual recommended steps to market their books, Writer Get Noticed! offers a series of very specific exercises that help writers personalize their author platforms to their unique strengths and personalities.
Each writer is unique, so why should we all be doing the same platform activities? By truly knowing ourselves and what we can best offer our readers, we stand a much better chance of attracting those who might become lifelong fans.
Can you give us a summary of your strengths-based approach to creating the author platform?
There are three basic steps to creating an author platform:
1. Determine what your strengths are as a writer and a creative individual.
2. Determine how you can contribute to your readers’ lives by uniquely combining your talents and passions/interests.
3. Combine your findings from #1 and #2 into a workable author theme and business blueprint, then use both to inspire all your future marketing activities.
I take readers through all three of these steps so that when they finish, they will have what they need to build platforms that will draw readers their way.
Does Writer Get Noticed! help writers find/develop their strengths? Do you recommend any one of the accredited assessment tests available or use more of an internal appraisal type of approach?
Writers who commit to doing the exercises in Writer Get Noticed! will emerge with a much better understanding of themselves and their strengths, both as writers and as individuals. Most exercises I created specifically for this purpose, and they take the reader on a journey of self-discovery that gradually leads to a specific, unique niche that reflects the author’s talents and personality. The author can then use that niche to power up a more successful platform.
I do talk about the well-known Myers-Briggs® personality test, however, and offer readers a chance to dig deeper into their results from that test. It’s based on the findings of psychiatrist Carl Jung, who talked about the “top two cognitive functions” within each personality. You can discover these when you take the test online, but I also offer you a way to pinpoint them based on what you know about your own way of thinking.
Once you discover your top two cognitive functions, I show you how to use those strengths to build your platform and your writing career as a whole. This is just one example of the strength-building exercises you’ll find in the book. There are several others, so readers should come prepared with a journal or notebook! :O)
What do you find is the most common issue writers need help with in building their platform?
The most common issue for writers is overcoming the resistance they have to building a platform, or the dislike of the activities involved in doing it. We must find platform-building activities we enjoy before we can be successful. To do that, we must be willing to ask: What am I good at? How am I uniquely suited to help my readers?
I give several examples of authors who have personalized their author platforms, and every one of them offers hope to writers who feel like they just don’t have the “marketing” gene or whatever it takes to truly sell their books and other products.
There are writers out there who have discovered the secret sauce to finding readers, and it’s all about capitalizing on your strengths. Writer Get Noticed! helps you do that.
Tell us a bit about your journey and how you developed your author platform.
Like many authors, I started building a platform after I got my first publishing contract. That was a mistake—I should have started much earlier—but I didn’t know that at the time, so I opened a Twitter and LinkedIn account and started a blog. I didn’t know what I was doing and I certainly didn’t have a niche that fit my strengths. I was focusing on a particular topic area, but I wasn’t having much success.
Then I got my second contract with a publisher I was super excited about, and I knew I had to step up my game. I needed a unique niche that would help me stand out. I thought about it for weeks and finally came up with the idea of combining my strengths from my day job—as a health and wellness writer—with my passion for fiction writing and creativity.
I started my blog Writing and Wellness, and my platform took off. No one else was talking about this unique topic, so I was able to stand out. Not only did I enjoy working on it, but the blog also attracted readers, and pretty soon I was receiving invitations to speak at author events and share my expertise. As the blog grew and I learned more about the readers following me, I offered products I hoped would address their needs, and that led to my first and now my second non-fiction book.
Finding my niche and building my author platform opened up new avenues in my writing career I could have never foreseen. It’s also made my writing much more rewarding. I’m excited for other authors to discover similar ways they can expand their careers.
What do you like to do outside of writing?
Music is a huge part of my life and I find that it compliments writing well. I started taking piano lessons in first grade and French horn lessons in fifth grade. I continued to study music through college, and now play French horn in the local symphony and pit orchestras, as well as in other area groups.
I also love horseback riding, hiking, and biking (casually), and I rarely go a week without heading out to the movies. I was raised on a ranch and enjoy being around animals, I’m a voracious reader, and I have a great appreciation for the lines on a good-looking car, like my Chevy Monte Carlo SS. (Why don’t they make cars like that anymore?)
I also like to play other instruments. I have a piano, an accordion, a guitar, a pearwood recorder, and several other instruments my family has brought me from their travels, including a ukulele from Hawaii, a zither, a maple fife, and a Frazier wooden flute from Australia.
How important are outside interests to your writing (speaking in general terms)?
I think it’s very important for writers to have other things they’re doing in life besides writing. When I go to a rehearsal with my musician friends, spend time on my parents’ ranch, or simply go out for a drive, it jumpstarts my brain and keeps me fresh.
Being involved in other pursuits reminds us there’s much more to the world than writing. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we can get tunnel vision—whatever happens in our writing careers can seem all-encompassing. Pursuing other passions gives us a healthier perspective on our writing goals and can result in a more balanced approach that benefits creativity and overall wellness.
What is the single most important piece of advice you can give to authors as it relates to writing and wellness?
If I could give writers just one piece of advice when it comes to wellness, it would be this: get up and move more often.
The writing life is dangerous because it tends to be extremely sedentary. Sitting is killing us, and standing isn’t much better. I’ve been a health and wellness writer for over 20 years, which means I review scientific studies every day. If there’s one fountain of youth, it’s exercise, but even more broadly, movement. The more you move throughout the day, the healthier you will be, and vice-versa.
So get up at least once every 30 minutes and walk around, do some jumping jacks, put on some music and dance, run up and down the stairs—anything. Just move. Move! A pedometer can help motivate you to do more.
We can’t write if we’re unwell, so I encourage all writers to put self-care first!
So, what’s next in terms of your writing career?
I have several new projects in the wings. I just released a new course, “How to Finish the Creative Projects You Start,” that helps writers put an end to procrastination once and for all. I recently finished my latest novel, The Beached Ones, and have begun looking for a publisher. I’m about halfway through my next novel, which is based on the myth of King Midas, and I’ve started a new nonfiction book as well.
Meanwhile, I continue to do my best to help writers at my two websites, Writing and Wellness and Writer CEO. The first focuses on wellness topics like boosting creativity, staying physically and mentally healthy, increasing productivity, and overcoming self-doubt, while the second is more about the business side of writing, with stories from real working writers and editors who are making money doing what they love.
With both, I hope to encourage writers and support them on their journeys to success.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Only that you can build a platform that works for you. You don’t have to force yourself into a box that leaves you discouraged and unmotivated. With a little guidance and your imagination, you’d be amazed at what you can do. Good luck and keep writing!
Colleen, thank you so much for joining us today at Reader Views. It’s been a pleasure learning more about you and all the wonderful work you do to help indie authors!
CONNECT WITH COLLEEN M. STORY!
Writing and Wellness (http://writingandwellness.com/)
Writer CEO (https://writerceo.com/)
Author Site (http://colleenmstory.com/)