As published authors, we soon realize that writing the book is only half the story – literally! Now we have to promote it in order to sell it. When I published my first children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare this became clear quite quickly, when I was asked where my author platform was. As a new author, I had not heard of or experienced an author platform, never mind created one.
It was a steep learning curve for sure and I began this blog, with a lot of trepidation as I did not have a clue what I was doing. It has, over the past ten years, morphed into a site for support, sharing and encouragement for the writing community and I am proud to be a writing community advocate. However, I am refocusing in 2020 to get back to posting about my writing life as well. So back to the point in hand.
An author platform can range from a just a website or blog highlighting your books to being present on a multitude of social media sites and promoting your novels but also your writing life.
So what are the first steps to creating a platform?
1. Put up a website and/or blog and purchase a domain name for it.
2. Write articles and publish them online, utilizing your ‘expertise’ on whatever topic you know. It can be parenting, traveling, baking etc.
3. For fiction writers find literary magazines where you can publish short stories then share the links.
4. If you have a book ready for publication, there are numerous ways to gather interest. Post excerpts, the new cover, a character interview, events you are attending etc.
6. Start webinars and/or interviews online. And organize a blog book tour.
7. BLOG!! Make your posts interesting and make sure you edit! It also allows you to acquire an email list.
8. You do not need to be on every social media site – apart from anything else it is a lot of work! Decide which ones you are comfortable maintaining and how your theme/topic/message can be related on them.
9. Create a newsletter to send to your email list – giving glimpses into the narrative, special offers etc.
What author platform tips can you share?
What has your experience been creating your platform?
The first book in this new series, What the Cat Knew was actually inspired by a dream my husband had! I hadn’t written any paranormal before this, haven’t written any kind of fantasy for decades, and I decided to give it a try.
How did you come up with the title?
I brainstormed a number of ideas, checked to see how many were already in use, and tried them out on the cover to see how they looked. The “cat” themed title has carried through the first three books, I’m not sure whether it will carry through the rest of the series.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are a number of messages in What the Cat Knew; that people should be what they are and pursue their natural talents; that things are not always as they appear; not to judge a book by its cover; that there are many different kinds of talents; and one that is fleshed out more in the next two books… the issue of consent.
How much of the book is realistic?
These books are paranormal mystery, so there are witches, spiritual messages, other psychic phenomena and magical races. But it is a balancing act between the concrete, “real” world that Reg has always tried to survive in, and the new magical world she is just getting to know.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In some of my books, yes. In What the Cat Knew, there is not much that is pulled from my own experience.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
You can find me on most social media with the name pdworkmanauthor.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I have three books written in the Reg Rawlins, Psychic Detective series so far, and you can expect more after that. You can find out my plans for the rest of the year at https://pdworkman.com/upcoming-in-2019
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I created this spin-off series from the Auntie Clem’s Bakery series because I liked Reg Rawlins so much and saw that she had a lot of potential as a character, so she is at the top of the list. But I also really enjoyed the psychic cat, Starlight, and Sarah, the feisty old witch. The villainous Corvin is a lot of fun to write and really rounds out the story and adds intrigue. In books two and three, I started to explore some other magical races and have had a lot of fun with Callie and Ruan.
Of all of the stories/series that I am working on right now, the character I think I am enjoying the most is Zachary Goldman.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I write crime fiction, but that has turned out to be quite a wide umbrella, ranging from suspense/thriller to P.I. mystery, to cozy mystery, and now paranormal cozy mystery. I have both young adult and adult books and series. They all tend to focus on outcasts, underdogs, and social issues.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
For thirty years I only wrote seat-of-the-pants. I have been writing using mind-maps and outlines the last few years, but I still occasionally pants a novel here and there. Because I am writing a lot in series right now, the books tend to develop a general shape that is reflected in each book in the series, so there is less planning to do in the later books, and I am settling into a sort of minimalist outline plan right now.
What is your best marketing tip?
I struggle with marketing. It doesn’t come nearly as naturally as the writing itself. Learn from others, try new things, and be willing to stick with what works.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
While I am in a number of writing groups, I tend to answer other people’s questions more than to write mine. It can be good entertainment, but I find it best not to spend too much time on social media.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I like to work out the emotions I am feeling and get my thoughts down on paper, to produce something that both entertains and makes people think. I love the creative process and sitting down and rereading my characters’ stories again and again.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I wrote my first novel-length fiction at age 12. I have always loved writing and making books and have some of the little construction-paper books that I stapled together written in scribbles before I could even read or write.
What genre are you currently reading?
I am reading a murder mystery right now. I read a lot of crime, with some YA, literary, and nonfiction thrown in.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I read mostly for pleasure. I do a lot of research, but generally rely on articles and short non-fiction rather than novels. I don’t generally analyze the writing of the fiction books I am reading, though I do take note if there are things I particularly like or don’t like.
Do you see writing as a career?
I am hoping to make it my full-time career in the next couple of years. I currently work full-time hours at my writing business as well as at my day job.
P.D. Workman was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. She writes riveting young adult and mystery/suspense books dealing with mental illness, addiction, abuse, and other social issues. She has won several literary awards from Library Services for Youth in Custody for her young adult fiction. She currently has over 30 published titles and can be found at pdworkman.com. She has been married for 25 years and has one son.
What inspired your latest novel? – I have written a trilogy and two children’s books. My trilogy, Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairy tale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy. My published children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, comes from my experiences as a professional Nanny. My soon-to-be published, children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, comes from my childhood fantasies.
How did you come up with the title? The real name of the cottage in my trilogy was Scotland Lodge. I didn’t want to use that name so I changed it to Merryweather Lodge. I thought it sounded cozy and quaint and a tad mysterious.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My protagonist, Emily Fletcher, has a message. She is an attractive, strong-willed young woman, who struggles with her self-image, volatile temper and bad habits. She’s a vegetarian and a progressive thinker. Like me, she likes her own space and often wanders into the country to ponder and seek solace from Mother Nature. She has always dreamt of living a simple life, in her aunts enchanting little cottage, with her gorgeous prince charming. Slowly, she learns how to conquer her fears, get in touch with her intuition, overcome her struggles, tame her temper and enhance her self-esteem.
How much of the book is realistic? My books are fiction, with an element of truth.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? My characters are bits and pieces of the personalities and characteristics of myself, friends, relatives, acquaintances, the woman behind the counter, etc. And yes, they are based on events in my own life.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I do not have a blog anymore. Here is my website paulineholyoak.com You will find links to my social media sites on there.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a standalone? I am working on a standalone, paranormal, suspense novel. And, I have a middle grade book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, due to be released this spring.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? My reader’s favorite Merryweather Lodge character was my protagonist’s aunt, Auntie Em. She was, not only in her appearance but in her personality and idiosyncrasies, a mixture of my mother and grandmother. All their good parts blended into one.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? Actually, I write in a lot of different genres. My short stories range from, political lit to romance. My trilogy is paranormal suspense. I am now in the process of writing a paranormal romance. My children’s books cover a wide range of genres.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Seat of the pants, for sure.
What is your best marketing tip? Keep a consistent online presence. And, hand out as many bookmarks, promo cards etc. as you can afford.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I think the internet, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote ones book, some are free and some are very costly. I blog, tweet, do online interviews, reviews, facebook and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but I know it’s an important element in establishing my writing career.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. LOL
Has your genre changed or stayed the same? I have always like to cover a wide range of genres.
What genre are you currently reading? Suspense.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Pleasure.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My muse.
Where is your favorite writing space? My office. It is my private domain, my retreat, with my favorite quotes, family pics and art work, created by my granddaughters, on the walls. No one is allowed in there but me! LOL
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? No, but I’m thinking of starting one.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? Probably Steven King. I love his books and he always has such great advice. There are so many…
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would love to live part of the year in England. I was born and grew up there. I adore the English countryside. It is a smorgasbord for the artistically inclined.. I would have moved back there years ago, if it weren’t for my children and now, grandchildren.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Oh yes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Yummy!!!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Dark chocolate and red wine..LOL
About me – I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why. I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life. I currently live in Alberta with my adorable sheltie dog. I am the proud mother of two grown children and three adorable granddaughters’.
As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. I remember writing a story in school; I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me, I kept writing whatever, just, came out of my head. In my teen years my journal became my confident, revealing all my hidden secrets, private fantasies and wild, wild, notions within its pages. Later I started to write poems, articles and short stories, and pondered the thought of becoming a writer.
After I settled in Canada, I buried my dreams under layers of real life clutter. I chose a safe and practical career in child care, married and raised a family. But my creative spirit kept trying to dig its way out. I was asked to write articles and editorials for our local church. I taught a story time class at our local school, which lead me to writing a children’s book. I wrote an article about my husbands’ prestigious grandfather and sent it to our local newspaper. They printed it. I kept sending them articles, they kept printing them. I was surprised at the compliments I received from the editor and readers. It was evident to me then, that I had excavated my creative spirit.
I decided to take a comprehensive writing course to improve my technique. With help from a proficient and supportive tutor, who told me I had a gift, I began to cultivate my skill. My articles started to sell and I received an assignment from a major Canadian magazine. I have spent the past 25 years writing, articles, short stories and books.
About my trilogy – Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairytale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy.
The first book in my Merryweather Lodge trilogy Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge, was the Readers Favorite 2011 Silver Award Winner for paranormal fiction. Book two, Merryweather Lodge – Malevolent Spirit, was a Readers Favorite finalist. My first children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, is about a strong willed young girl with a wild and wacky imagination. It is published by, Wee Creek Press. I have just sighed a publishing contract for my second children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream.. Yay! Twenty five of my articles have been published.
Depending on the phase that the book is in and what other projects I have going on. Usually writing energizes me, it is often fuel for the soul. The times that it doesn’t are when it is in the heavy editing phase, that uses a very different, critical-thinking part of the brain which can be exhausting.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I initially did in the past, thinking that it might be good to not share what I do in case it was too graphic for people in my work life. However, I think the benefits of being transparent outweigh risks.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with many authors and keep tabs with as many as I can. Most of them are in the local area of Alberta, some are elsewhere, and I have only met them online. Some of the local ones I keep touch with are Matthew Gillies, M M Dos Santos, Adam Dreece and Suzy Vadori. We frequently run into each other at conventions.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
The grand plan is to build a connection for each and every story that I write. Some of the books read as stand alone and others are part of a series. For the diehard fans, they’ll notice small hints that connect the stories together. This opens up many questions to the reader since there are large time period differences in the novels.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’d say getting an editor, it makes a world of difference. A second one was paying for consultation advice from a successful indie author who was able to provide insights into the indie author world.What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Most likely when I was reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. His work painted detailed imagery in my head and I realized the power of how words could transcend one’s mind into new worlds.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
That’s a tough one, I think there are a lot of them in the indie author world. If I had to pick a personal choice, it’d have to be a non-fiction book. Specifically Looking In, Seeing Out: Consciousness by Menas Kafatos and Thalia Kafatou. It is a powerful book and offers great insight into science and spirituality.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Well, my Chinese Zodiac birth sign is a horse. I think that animal best summarizes my creative process – a work horse.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a lot of book outlines and short stores on the go. Currently no finished manuscripts.
What does literary success look like to you?
To me literary success is being able to make a stable income from your work.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I spend a lot of time researching, before plotting, during writing and during editing. Questions arise that never crossed my mind until I am at that moment in writing the book.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
It is pretty spontaneous. Some months I write every day around 2,000 words and other months I will barely write a total of 5,000. Of course with the blog I do write fairly consistently on a weekly basis.
How do you select the names of your characters?
The process varies based on the genre I am writing. Fantasy names are often combinations of a couple words or have some sort of historical background to them. Other names are based on age, ethnicity and time period. Basically something that will make them believable to be in their world.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I’d say the battle scene in my upcoming fantasy novel, Mental Damnation III. It contains a pretty lengthy fight between some powerful characters. It had to elaborate on what magic they had while remaining fast paced.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
Genre often becomes a second thought for me. I have an idea book filled with concepts for stories. Once I find one that I have a hunch on where it can go I start jumping into the plot outlines and then the genre becomes clearer. Usually my work fits within the horror or fantasy realms.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing all my life, professionally I haven’t really started until 2012 with the first release of Mental Damnation Reality.
What inspires you?
Movies inspire me, books, video games and my own life. It’s like being a sponge and absorbing as much around you as you possibly can.
How do you find or make time to write?
I don’t know! Ultimately though you just have to make time for it. You either have to cancel on some previous plans or power through being tired or push through a creative block.
What projects are you working on at the present?
Currently I have a slasher in the works. I have notes for a number of short stories and the fourth Mental Damnation installment. Not 100% sure what order these will come out in though.
What do your plans for future projects include?
For immediate release, YEGman is coming out along with Mental Damnation III later this year.
Konn Lavery is a Canadian horror and dark fantasy writer who is known for his Mental Damnation series. The second book, Dream, reached the Edmonton Journal’s top five selling fictional books list. He started writing fantasy stories at a very young age while being home schooled. It wasn’t until graduating college that he began professionally pursuing his work with his first release, Reality. Since then he has continued to write works of fiction ranging from fantasy to horror.
His literary work is done in the long hours of the night. By day, Konn runs his own graphic design and website development business under the title Reveal Design (www.revealdesign.ca). These skills have been transcribed into the formatting and artwork found within his publications supporting his fascination of transmedia storytelling.
I have been creative my whole life and enjoyed numerous forms of artistic expression. It was not until I moved to Canada that my writing career began and has flourished. A writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and local publisher, Dream Write Publishing have enabled me to become published in record time. My passion for this particular art form surmounts all others and I am proud to be an integral part of the foundation and its mission to aid all writers, any age, any stage of their writing career.
Without these organizations my writing talent would have remained latent and my stories never released into the world.