Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with author, Christina Katz @thewritermama on Twitter. Christina is the author of Get Known Before The Book Deal Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids for Writer’s Digest Books. She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at publishing events around the country. Katz is the founder of #platformchat on Twitter, The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway, Writers on the Rise, and The Northwest Author Series. For more information: http://christinakatz.com/
Smallbizlady: What is a platform as far as entrepreneurs are concerned?
Christina Katz: When I hear about your platform, I should immediately know three things…or you might lose my attention. 1. Who you are. 2. Whom you serve. 3. What you do. Your platform is what you DO with your expertise for a particular audience. If I have to shuffle thru pages, bios and profiles trying to piece these things together, your platform might be a hot mess.
Smallbizlady: Why is clarity crucial to entrepreneurs BEFORE building a platform today?
Christina Katz: Because if you don’t communicate who you are and what you do, then how will anyone know how to work with you? It’s not enough to say, “I’m a radio personality” or “I’m a life coach” neither of these tell ME how I can work with YOU. Say: On Jan 31st I’m offering a workshop at location x on topic y for $z. Now I can pay, show up, and work with you!
Smallbizlady: What are the platform challenges for entrepreneurs today?
Christina Katz: Standing out. The web is more crowded today. Don’t be slick or all zing. Let your integrity shine through. But don’t be boring. Check yourself constantly for rushing. The Internet goes fast but people grow slowly & steadily. Slow and steady is sturdier. Avoid social networking overload. Don’t get so busy surfing that you are not investing time digging deeper into your own niche.
Smallbizlady: What’s helpful platform-wise for entrepreneurs who want to land a book deal?
Christina Katz: Think in terms of numbers. How many blog readers? How many e-zine subscribers? Twitter followers? How much buzz online? Don’t fudge. Agents & editors want real results. Everyone knows how to use Google. Not just online buzz. Get media coverage. It used to be that a FEW things were key like a site, blog, and e-zine, but these days it’s more like EVERYTHING matters.
Smallbizlady: How did you come to write Get Known Before the Book Deal?
Christina Katz: Marketing comes pretty naturally to me. I’m actually rather shy in person but in business, I’m a fountain of ideas. Both my books, Writer Mama & Get Known, are written based on looking back at what I’ve done and sharing what I learned. Get Known was the book idea that was right in front of my face but I couldn’t see it. Luckily someone else could. And did.
Smallbizlady: Why was a book on platform development needed?
Christina Katz: There is a flood of info on platform online but not all of it necessarily comprehensive, useful or well organized. Also, no one should have to pay thousands of dollars for information they can find in a book for the price of a paperback. Getting known doesn’t take a lot of $, but it does take the investment of time, skills & consistent effort.
Smallbizlady: What is the key idea behind Get Known Before the Book Deal
Christina Katz: My intention was it would be the book folks would read before attending a writer’s conference to increase chances of landing a book deal. Often folks with weak platforms are over-confident about impressing agents and editors, while folks with strong ones are under-confident. Get Known offers a plan to help anyone make gains in the rapidly
Smallbizlady: What are some common platform mistakes entrepreneurs-turned-authors make?
Christina Katz: They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others. They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer and offer it, in specific packages. They don’t precisely articulate what they offer so others get it immediately. Even one second of “Huh?” is unfortunate.
Smallbizlady: What are three things entrepreneurs can do today to get started building their platforms?
Christina Katz: Make sure your website represents you in the best possible light. Website or blog doesn’t matter, it just has to fit. The blog is the front of the house, but more often the real work is going on in the back of the house. Get this. Your platform is only as big as your permission based e-mail list. Read everything by Seth Godin, especially his book, Permission Marketing.
Smallbizlady: At the front of Get Known, you discuss four phases of the authoring process. What are they?
Christina Katz: First is the platform development and building phase. Second, comes the book proposal development phase. Third, comes the actual writing of the book (for fiction writers this is likely the re-writing of the book). Finally, once the book is published, comes the book marketing and promoting phase.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
For more tips on starting or growing your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at www.succeedasyourownboss.com