Platform Takeaways from the Writer’s Digest Conference

by Emily Wenstrom
published in Community

As I sit down to write this, I’m still recovering from the whirlwind that was the Writers Digest Conference—as one is likely to do following any really great conference. Part of that is, of course, because I was there with the DIY MFA team supporting Gabriela as she launched the DIY MFA book and offered a special DIY MFA Insiders Program.

But I also had time to make my way to other sessions, too, and I paid special attention to the platforming focused sessions so I could bring back a few insights for you.

Many of the presentations covered the same best practices we cover here in the column—tips like:

  • People need to know about your book in order to buy
  • Share your personality on social media, don’t be a sales robot.
  • Make it as easy as possible for readers to buy your book/leave a review/share a social media post or they might not do it
  • When your book gets published, your work is only beginning
  • Use any angle you can think of from your book to develop relevant ties for media coverage and other opportunities.

Quite frankly, it’s a good thing that we’re all on the same page about these basic best practices.

If these basic best practices were different according to each individual professional in the industry, then they really wouldn’t be best practices so much as a crapshoot. Consistency and agreement on what basic, foundational practices are effective for authors is a good sign for all of us.

But I did find a few really great, fresh ideas at the conference this year. And I’ve collected them all up for you!

Form Creative Business Partnerships

Emily Liebert talked about earning publicity with a business partnership, and I thought this was a pretty intriguing tip. What’s this look like? For Liebert, it meant pitching a nail polish company to create a special set of three polishes and naming it after her book, and each color after one of her key characters.

The product’s relevancy matters, but really, it’s about the credibility the association with the company gains you, which can help you earn more media attention.

So how can you partner? You’ll have to get creative, but go ahead and think outside that box a bit.

Use Amazon Series Pages

I’d actually never heard of this before. When adding your books to your Amazon profile, be sure to note if they’re part of a series—Amazon will automatically create a landing page for the all the books in it.

Even better, Amazon customers have the option to buy the entire series together with a single click, making it very easy to make multiple sales with a single customer in one fell swoop. Writing a series never looked more appealing.

One caveat to bear in mind: If the books are released by different publishers, they won’t show up on the same series page, so sticking with the same press (or sticking with self-publishing) through the full series gives you an advantage.

Be a Proactive Partner

I knew this one, but it’s the kind of thing that is easy to know but not practice. Even if you hire a professional for support on something like press promotion, social media, or a blog tour, remember: This is yours to own, and you need to be an active partner in the work they are doing for you.

Check in frequently, keep an eye out for opportunities, and collaborate with your publicist to make sure no stone is left unturned. Don’t be shy about asking for lists of where they have pitched you, either.

There’s Always Something to Learn

The 2016 Writers Digest Conference was an awesome event with a lot to take in. The basic best practices for author platforming remain the wide consensus, but there is always room to learn a new thing or two. Beyond that, I got to meet a lot of great writers and industry professionals, with a lot of fun thrown in for good measure!

ew_007_lowrezBy day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhausauthor social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.

Enjoyed this article?