Unanswered Q&A from the live webinar, Establishing and Growing Your Author Platform, with Jane Friedman.

If your question wasn't answered during the live webinar, Jane wrote answers to you below.


My current narrative nonfiction book, Aldous Huxley’s Hands, has two interwoven themes that appeal to different readers (psychedelic history, spirituality). Do you have any suggestions for how to make a bridge in my platform.

Unless you have limited time and energy, I’d focus on the theme that has the clearest way of identifying and engaging with your audience – or where you already have tools, relationships, and resources in place for reaching that audience. You can also think about what angle would be easiest for you to exploit or pitch when looking at influencers or others in the community of people who would be interested in this book.

My general philosophy with all book marketing is to start very narrow and focused, exhaust all your options with that narrow and focused approach, then move on to the next opportunity (theme) or audience. I think it’s the only way to stay sane.


What do you recommend for people writing literary fiction who are lightly published? (I've pubbed a few stories, book reviews, etc and have been contacted by an agent but I'm in the early draft of my first novel.) My thought: create a website collecting all I've pubbed to date and send an email when I pub something new. Maybe make more effort to stay connected w/ folks from my MFA program, and maybe reach out other writers to build my community. Anything else?

Yes, I agree – create a website that details your credits, and have an email newsletter that alerts people regularly about new stuff. I mentioned “literary citizenship” during the live Q&A, which would be particularly applicable here. Thinking locally and regionally about events/bookstores/series can also help increase your visibility and network.


Can you talk about using youtube and best way to make that work for you? (I'm a former performer and this seems fun.)

A lot here depends on what books you’re writing or what you want to become known for. I’d study authors who use it successfully, such as YA novelist John Green. Most people aren’t willing to watching a video that’s more than a minute or so, unless you’re delivering something they’re highly motivated to watch (instruction / celebrities / humor). Green shows how you can go longer and still retain attention. I recommend scripting everything to start unless you’re planning some kind of interview series.


When changing genres (from poetry to nonfiction, for example), how important is it to integrate past content? Or does something like being a published poet become a kind of ‘dead weight,” so is it better to start ‘anew” as a prose author?

I don’t think it’s dead weight – it’s just considering what work you want to make a priority when you describe yourself at your site, on social media, and elsewhere. What do you want to draw attention to (strategically)? For example, few people know that I write personal essays because I never talk about them. But they’re not dead weight. They’re just something that’s not a priority for me to emphasize right now.


Could you please talk more about keeping your rights. You talked about this in the Free Stuff section

Yes, if you end up doing stuff for free – contributing to a book bundle or box set, contributing to a blog, or otherwise producing content that is sponsored/distributed by someone who is not you – then make sure you don’t tie up the rights or promise exclusivity unnecessarily if you’re not being paid and the main purpose is to develop your platform.


How do you keep your private Facebook page separate from your Facebook author page?

Make sure you only link to your FB author page from your website/social and never link to your private profile from anywhere. On your private FB profile, don’t allow people to send friend requests if you don’t have a friend in common, make your friends list private if necessary, don’t allow photo albums to be seen by anyone but friends, etc.


If you write in 2 very different genres should you separate them. For example, should you list all your books one your Amazon author page? Linda

Generally, yes, you should list all your books on your Amazon author page, at your website, etc., unless you are writing under different names. A good rule of thumb is only separate out your work if you are prepared to run two different identities, with two different websites, two different brands, etc.


Which social media sites have the most efficacy with promoting platforms and do you use/recommend hoot suite? Thank you!

There isn’t a single answer because it depends on the book and the audience. However, the fallback answer is Facebook because it’s so all encompassing. Hootsuite works great for scheduling; I happen to use Buffer though (but it’s not necessarily better).


I am a police psychologist & the author of six books, 3 non-fiction, & 3 mysteries featuring a police psychologist. I blog in several places, mostly about police psychology. What is the etiquette of repeating the same blog in several different places - on my website, FB, in a group, on Psychology Today.

It’s quite common to re-run or re-publish blog posts at your own site after their first appearance elsewhere. No problem, assuming your publisher/editor allows it. Definitely link to those posts on social media after they’re published. I’ll be discussing further marketing strategies in the session on author websites and blogs.


Are pop up boxes (on your website) which invite readers to receive exclusive updates a good idea? Or simply have a ""click link (icon) on your various website pages? AKA: are pop up boxes synonymous with obnoxious? ; )

Pop-ups work – but people do hate them. I comment at length here:

https://janefriedman.com/why-i-started-using-pop-ups/

Be sure not have pop-ups enabled for mobile visitors – that will hurt your SEO with Google.


How can literary/non-genre authors develop a consistent image when each book can be wildly different than the next?

Over the long term, I would encourage you figure out some kind of author tagline and branding that you can apply globally and long term, independently of the books you publish, probably in collaboration with a designer or someone who can help you think through the branding issues involved. If you don’t publish books every often (e.g., 1 book every five or more years), then it may be desirable to use the cover of your current book as the branding look for everything. But if you have to do a redesign of your identity every time a new book comes out, that isn’t necessarily ideal. Depends on what you have the patience for and how long you’d like your brand identity to last. (These things do evolve over time, so it’s not a bad thing to go back to the drawing board every so often.)


I do a lot of writing and ghostwriting in business nonfiction and have a persona and client base in that genre. Now I'm preparing to publish in science fiction category and being advised to use a pseudonym. What do you think?

I find this to be something of a personal decision and related to your comfort level with your business clients knowing about your SF writing activities and vice versa. If publishing professionals are advising you to use a pseudonym, I’d encourage you to listen unless you think there’s some potential crossover in audiences. The big drawback is that you’ll have to manage two identities, two websites, etc.


I have a platform as the author of several crime novels published in paperback original, but my new publisher is publishing my new work in hardcover using a pseudonym. They want my readers to come along, and are urging me to be open about the pseudonym. Any advice as to how best to accomplish this transition?

It would be best to immediately establish a separate website, social media accounts, email newsletter lists, etc. for your new name. Then – under your old name – prior to publication be sure to let your readers know about the new exciting work under the new exciting name. Ask them in many different places, in many different ways, to come follow you at the new site/social media account/etc. Talk about it a lot on the “old name platform” – repeatedly. Then, once the heat of the new name/new launch is over, don’t bother your “old” people again about the new name and new work, except maybe once or twice when you launch other new titles under the new name.


Is it better to have a web site under your own name or under the book's title (as my publisher suggests)?

Your name, always. It doesn’t hurt to own a domain connected to your book title (and have it redirect to your author site), and there are some exceptions where you might want to have a website devoted to your book in addition to your author website (e.g., in the case of classroom texts that will be around for many years, through many new editions, with many ancillary materials). But most book-specific websites are an enormous waste of time unless you’re a 1-book author or the author of a super-huge branded book with millions of sales (think: Harry Potter).


Who is your audience when you are a children's author? It is not really kids, but the adults who buy their books (ie teachers, parents), right?

That’s right – children’s authors work at this a bit differently than adult authors. You’re mainly targeting the gatekeepers to children, although I have seen some exceptions to this. This post may be helpful: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/how-to-market-childrens-books/


You had a slide that showed your tagline under your internet listings a reader would find when “googling” your name. How does one get those words to show up?

Your website admin or content management system allows you to customize/change the title and description of pages, as well as the meta description of every page and post. If you’re using WordPress, install Yoast SEO plugin for an easy way to edit these fields right in the page or post editor window.


From Jan: You mentioned introversion early on. Branding/building a platform sounds overwhelmingly out-there. How do you reconcile all this other-directed activity — on a day-to-day basis — with your introversion?

I am indeed out there in public on a daily basis. But it’s under terms that I control. I decide what to communicate and how, from the comfort of my office and home. I can turn it off at any time and I can show up again when I’m ready. I can decide if and when I’m sharing personal information or not. I control the imagery. I don’t have to interact with anyone I don’t want to. I can block/mute/unfriend. Etc.

The communication and creative activities I engage in don’t really feel like marketing work or like I’m exposing myself. I’m focusing on sharing information and being helpful to people. I believe that all of us are interested in engaging with others and being in conversation about the things we care about. If and when we need to step back and regain focus, it’s easy to do that with online tools and resources – it’s all under our control. It’s mainly lack of discipline that’s the problem, or when we get into a dynamic where the tools dictate how we feel.


How can an author increase search engine optimisation and drive new readers to her website?

We will talk about this in the next session! But I have a 30-minute free session here that goes over some of the territory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PXwAYSt0eM

You may also find this helpful: https://janefriedman.com/build-long-lasting-traffic-to-website/


My first book (a non-fiction health book) is set to be published in spring 2018. What are the top two actions you recommend focusing on at this point to build a platform 12 months out?

Establish your author website with an email newsletter sign-up, and begin developing a well of content (lead magnets) that can help promote the book during its launch. Content might be blog posts, articles for other websites, videos, webinars, online courses, email newsletter series, etc.


is it better to have a Facebook profile or a Facebook page? Should one convert from profile to page? Thanks! This is a fantastic webinar.

Should I have two Facebook pages, one for me personally and the other for me as an author?

I try to answer this question here:

https://janefriedman.com/facebook-for-authors/

Most people will have a private profile, plus an official Facebook page. For me personally, I’ve decided to stick with only a profile for now, with “followers.” The post above explains further.


Would you include LinkedIn as an effective social media choice?

If your book is in the business or tech category, definitely. For fiction/poetry, no.


Wikipedia: Do you set your own page, or wait for a fan to do it?

You have to wait for someone else to do it; otherwise, it’s likely to get taken down.


If your author website has been designed around the hardcover of your latest book and fits both you and your work, but the paperback cover has a new and very different cover, do you have to convert your website to match it? Can you leave the hardcover jacket image?

Ideally you’d have some cohesion, but you can leave the hardcover, don’t sweat it too much.


If you write literary work and fantasy work, should you publish under different names and have different platforms?

Generally, I encourage authors to stick with one name until it just becomes overwhelmingly clear that you would benefit from two distinct identities or platforms (or if there are professional reasons not to mix the two lives). That’s because there’s basically twice the work involved of managing two author profiles, and you lose the potential crossover benefit of the audiences.


Does Pinterest have any value for authors?

If your work is highly visual, yes. Nonfiction authors in the cooking, hobbies, fashion, crafting, and related categories will find Pinterest essential.


My web site graphic designer said not to put links to poems in current journals because it would drive traffic away from my own site. Correct?

Not correct. For most authors, the goal isn’t to keep people on your site. The goal is to help readers understand who you are, what you write, and to interest them in your newsletter, buying your latest book, following you on social media, etc. Have a strong call to action on your site (what do you want people to do or know about you?) and don’t worry about linking out to your work. That’s natural and practically a requirement.