Author Topic: Author's Platforms and nom de plume  (Read 4791 times)

Offline scribo

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Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« on: September 16, 2013, 02:31:42 PM »
I've been reading so many agent's interviews, on QT and elsewhere, where they say that an author, especially a new author, needs to have an author's platform, whether a webpage or a blog or a successful sales record at sites such as Smashbook. Although I have some social media experience with LinkedIn and facebook, I have become confused over the need for, and style of, the author's platform and wonder if the lack of any platform is hindering my attempts to get an agent. I don't know whether to send any more queries before I establish a smashbook presence or to keep on trying without one.

Also, I do academic writing and wonder if it would be better to use a nom de plume for my fiction work and my real name for the scholarly stuff. And if I do establish a smashbook space using the nom de plume, when I query again, should I query in that name or in my real name? I am totally paralyzed with indecision.  :help: Thanks in advance to any of you who might give me some advice!
“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” <br />― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2013, 03:38:38 PM »
Well, i do think having a platform in this day and age is important, you shouldn't work on it or worry about it if it's going to interfere with your writing, you know?

Because you know what will get you an agent more than an awesome platform? Writing an awesome book.

I have friends who literally have 1000s of blog followers. Active followers. But they still query and get rejections like the rest of us, you know? So, i say do what you're comfortable with. Do you think you can write a blog and update it at least once a week for years? Then go for it. Otherwise, don't worry about it too much. If you write a great book and have no internet presence, they'll still sign you. They'll just say they need to discuss your internet presence going forward.

I really have no thoughts regarding the pen name, though. Sorry
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Offline QuietWriter

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2013, 03:49:22 PM »
Whether or not to use a pen name is entirely up to you. It's not entirely uncommon for authors to have a few pen names, even. My agent did a post about when to use pen names a while ago. It's a good read and may help you in your decision. I use a pen name for privacy and because my surname is so common you honestly cannot Google me and come up with the right one at all. Then I have a second pen name to separate my genres. It was something my agent and I talked about at length and felt was the right decision. If you feel that having a pen name will benefit you, there is no harm in it.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/agent-miriam-kriss-on-what%E2%80%99s-in-a-name-when-should-you-use-a-pseudonym

When querying, you sign:

Sincerely,
Scribo
Writing as Scribo's Pen Name

As far as building a platform, having a social media presence is nice, but it's not 100% necessary. There are plenty of authors who do not have their own website (because, hey, they cost money) until after they've signed with an agent. Having a blog is great, but you should post regularly. If you can't do that, then don't have a blog because a blog that is orphaned is a sad, sad thing. You need to find what social media works best for you. If you like the interaction of Twitter, great, start a Twitter account. Create a public Facebook page, which is free. You don't have to buy the ad or pay to boost your posts. As long as you have some kind of "home base" online, you're fine.

That said, I have a crit partner who is a web designer and she did my website (which we are now redesigning ) when I began to seriously query because I liked having a permanent home page that didn't need constant maintenance like a blog, and the other place where I built most of my social media presence was on Twitter and hanging out in places like #yalitchat on Twitter. Those were what I was comfortable doing, and ultimately, whatever you choose to do needs to be what you are most comfortable with, what you are best able to maintain. But do not feel a ton of pressure to have a big web presence unless you want one.

Offline AvO

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 01:36:52 PM »
I'm in the same boat as you in that I have extensive scientific writings in journals and such. I use a pen name just to keep the two worlds seperate. If somebody searches for me under my real name they'll find only the science stull, and a pen name search will lead to only fiction related things. When I query I use my real name with an "aka" after it to identify my pen name.

Offline scribo

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 04:06:36 PM »
Thank you, Falen, Magpie, and AvO,

Your comments are really, really helpful. I am feeling brave enough again to continue to query without anything beyond an online presence at LinkedIn and facebook. Even there, though, I don't talk about my fiction writing at all, as you all probably figured. I think it just confuses people, which is why I definitely will go for a pseudonym and a new facebook page. Thanks for the link to the interview with Miriam Kriss, Magpie, and to AvO for convincing me even further of the critical need for the pen name. I need to make sure the one(s) I am thinking of are not already in use and get a domain name. Even if it a "site in progress" it will be better than nothing. Then I'll start using the pseudonym with an aka in my queries.

I know about the lonliness of the orphaned blog, and the importance of writing for it every week, for years, as you said, Falen--I've tried doing it but abandoned it after only 3 or 4 posts, so I guess that is not for me. (It could have been the subject matter, which was a business I really don't want to participate in anymore.) I have a domain in my own name, but the site needs totally redesigned.  Anyway, I will earmark that one for the scholarly stuff and get a new one for the pseudonym, when that has been determined.

It is incredible how helpful you all have been. Writing the book wasn't easy, neither is it's sequel, but discovering all else that is needed to publish it is so very complicated. Thank you a thousand times--I will send karma if I can, but know it is there virtually!

Scribo
“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” <br />― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Offline Nostrabuttus

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2013, 01:04:57 AM »
Scribo, I have doubled the number of followers on Twitter in  the last  3 months. It took a massive effort on my part, but I now have 18 followers on Twitter.

I have  writer friends who spend a lot of time posting on social media trying to increase the number of followers in hopes that will help increase book sales. Many  of them sell fewer books than the friends who spend their time writing more books. One friend who sells 3000 ebooks per month on Amazon only does a few posts per month on her Facebook page, and that's about the extent of her social media effort.

 I am currently in the middle of an experiment. Instead of focusing on social media, I am giving my novel and three short stories away on Smashwords to see if I can build a reader fan base. The majority of downloads are occurring in Australia, USA, followed by Canada. Most downloads are though the Apple iBookstores. Everyone who is selling eBooks needs to have their books in the Apple iBookstores.

Every time I release a new story the number of downloads shoot up across the board on my  other ebooks. That  appears to be more effective than my previous efforts at using social media to spike downloads.

Once I receive 30 to 40 reviews or ratings on Apple, I will price my books at $2.99 or $3.99 and then place them on Amazon as well. I can't give books away there unless I join KDP Select, which would limit my books to only Amazon. Not something I would do.

Then the real tests will begin. It is easy to give books away, but once you place a price on them things get a lot tougher. After six months of actual sales, I will write a post about the results.

I am writing all of this to say what works for one writer may not work as a well for another person. Do what  you enjoy doing. If that is social media, then it may work well for you. If social media is not your thing, then figure out some other way to build your reader fan  base.

Either way you will need a web page, a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +

Many literary agents will Google an author's name. If they don't find you, they might move on.

As to getting a literary agent there are two ways to go about it. Query a well written story that has broad appeal, or make the best seller lists. Currently, at my age, one method appears to be about as easy as the other. :wink:

Best of luck to you.
Author of humorous short stories, mainstream suspense, mystery, and thriller novels.

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http://jacklabloom.blogspot.com/

Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 08:42:27 AM »
Think it would weird an agent out, or intrigue them?

Probably just depends on the agent.
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Offline Nostrabuttus

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Re: Author's Platforms and nom de plume
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 12:16:46 PM »
The only thing an agent would find if she googled my name would be my experience (I'm an intuitive empath) as a physic. It certainly helps with my writing. Think it would weird an agent out, or intrigue them?

River, I had to look that up. You would be the interesting person at a party surrounded by a crowd. Each person waiting their turn to ask you a question.
Author of humorous short stories, mainstream suspense, mystery, and thriller novels.

https://jmdavisauthor.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @jmdavisauthor
http://jacklabloom.blogspot.com/