As Lisa Dailey from Sidekick Press and I gear up for our Platform & Performance 6-week deep dive class starting next week, I want to point you toward my dear friend, Laura Kalpakian, as an example of what is possible when you have a platform built and ready. (Make sure you read all the way to the end, because I’ll tell you how to get $100 off our class!)
Laura is currently in the middle of re-launching her wonderful book, Graced Land, originally published in 1993. Graced Land is about how Elvis’s music and artistry ripped the social fabric of the USA open. He, and his music, changed people for the better–a great artist at work! Thirty years ago, Laura didn’t have a website or a blog or social media, as marketing didn’t happen this way. (How book marketing is changing is an entire topic—we’ll go over this in Platform and Performance.) But now Laura does have a platform. She has hundreds of people on her mailing list, hundreds of Facebook friends. Laura has a vibrant network of writers, and connections with organizations in her community.
I’m want to share her process with you so you can see what is possible. (Check out the hyperlinks for each step!):
- She connected with an independent press, Paint Creek Press. Together, they got her book re-published with a new cover, new layout, and new forward.
- She emailed all of her friends to let them know that she was re-publishing her book.
- Laura wrote two-months of blog posts, and set them up to automatically roll out on her website .
- She connected with her local bookstore to see if they would host a reading/launch party at their store. Unfortunately, they had to say no. Laura learned that re-publication often does not sell well. Laura understood the reasoning. And yet, being dogged determined, she didn’t falter. She saw she needed to build her market–and her vision–even more. So, she took matters into her own hands…
- Laura found a free location at a local brewery to host a family-and-friends-and-community party. She then emailed her friends with an invitation.
- She contacted the Pickford, the local independent film center, to see if they were going to show Elvis. They weren’t planning on it. But when she pitched the idea of a book reading before a showing as a way to drive ticket sales they agreed! (The film also did very well at the Cannes Film Festival.) This was a MAJOR win for Laura! The Pickford has thousands of people on their mailing list and social media…all potential book-buyers.
- Laura next contacted her local newspaper, Cascadia Daily News, and asked if they needed content. She pitched the idea to review Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis film to run in their newspaper a few days before the Pickford event. (Note: She went after a mailing list of a few more thousands of people). The newspaper said yes!
- Because Laura now had the backing (and mailing lists) of the Pickford and the Cascadia Daily, Laura returned to her bookstore. She pitched the idea of them selling books at the Pickford movie event–less risky but still something. The bookstore said yes to the compromise…and Laura gained access to the bookstore’s mailing list/social media. (Are you seeing a theme, here?)
- Laura saw the release of Elvis, and wrote a review article that night. She sent the article to the Cascadia by 11am the next day.
- All along, Laura plastered her social media with blogs, articles about Elvis, and any hot links that came up–ending every post with an invitation to her book launch party. She emailed her friends and family again, re-inviting them to get their butts to Goods Local Brews for a party.
- There, she read a selection from her book, pitched the movie, and sold books. (And ate cake!) Meanwhile…
- The Pickford Film Center emailed its entire list and posted about her book reading on their social media—in effect, driving momentum towards future Graced Land sales.
- The Cascadia Daily News published her article. This steered people towards Laura’s website (book sales) and to the event at the Pickford (more book sales!).
This is where things stand now, in this moment. But keep an eye out…watch how Laura is going to…
- Post the Cascadia review all over Elvis fan groups on social media, inspiring people to click on her website…and buy books.
- Have a splash of a book reading at the Pickford (July 1 at 5pm! Check it out!),
- Use the Cascadia review as a way to secure podcasts about Elvis. And,
- Host a book club for later in August—for which people will buy and read the book, and hopefully afterwards feel inspired to buy extras to share with their friends…
Notice how Laura was able to do SO MUCH because she had her platform ready?
Writers, how amazing is this? See how a platform affords you the ability to be nimble? Laura was able to TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY to catch a wave of momentum. Laura is able to collaborate with different organizations, and utilize their mailing lists. But she gives back by cross-promoting, and in so doing strengthens community…and selling books!
If I can impart anything to you, dear writer, it is that building a platform sets you up for generosity.
Yes, it’s a lot of steps, but you can learn it. It’s not rocket science.
Writers, you can do this, too. It’s all just tiny steps put together in a particular sequence. You don’t have to learn it all alone, all at once, or swim in overwhelm. In our Platform and Performance class, starting July 8, Lisa and I will give you dozens of ideas of ways to market your book. Ideas like Laura’s, and more. We will walk you step-by-step through the process of building a platform and a marketing plan so you, too, can build community and sell your story.
And for you and your friends, use the code pp100$2022 when you sign up. You’ll get $100 off the cost of the class! Come get the support and inspiration you need to build your platform, sell some books, all while making the world a better place.
See you soon, Writer!