Thursday, December 16, 2010

Memberships Matter

When you mention platform, many envision masses of people who would jump at your invitation to a party, or thousands of business acquaintances, or 20,000 Twitter followers. In other words, many people who would purchase your work. Most of us sigh and figure we'll never have that kind of following. It's a Catch 22 - how do you sell without a following - how do you develop a following without something to sell?

If I told you to make a list of those who inhabit your platform, you'd include Twitter, Facebook, blog readers, neighbors, family and friends. But I bet you'd miss some groups that could possibly open doors wider than you think.

Alumni Associations
Every college has an alumni association, and most publish a paper and/or online news service. It didn't take much for me to get the editor of the Clemson University's alumni publication to mention my book The Shy Writer in one quarterly issue a few years back. You don't have to be a celebrity to make the news in these magazines. Their goal is to cover as many alumni as possible, introducing opportunities among fellow graduates.

Civic Clubs
Toastmasters, Sertoma, Lions Clubs, Shriners, Junior League, Rotary, Optimists Clubs, Jaycees, Women's Clubs . . . Not only do these groups welcome local information in their newsletters, but many have nationally distributed magazines that welcome profiles of members. Don't want to toot your own horn? Get another writer or member to write the piece for you (with your assistance, of course).

Company Publications
If you have a day job, your company just might have an in-house publication. I used to work for the US Department of Agriculture - took an early retirement after 25 years (I started at age 12 *wink*). I now write rural mysteries with an agricultural flavor. Don't think I won't be sending a piece about it when it's finally published. Those publications are designed to spotlight employees. Use them.

Shopping Memberships
Some shopping clubs like Sams Wholesale, Costco, and BJ's have the occasional mailing or brochure. In a recent online group, I read about a mystery writer who used a member publication called Costco Connection. It has a  monthly column called Member Connection, where they profile Costco members who have interesting stories. She'd noticed how they featured a member who published a book, so she gave it a go herself by sending a press kit. They agreed to include her in an upcoming issue. She emailed her book to the magazine's reporter who then introduced it to the store's book buyer. What a opportunity to be seen by thousands!  BJ's has a book club and a publication relating to it. Sam's Club has author signing events and roadshows.

School Newsletters
If they take advertising, they'll take your book announcement, especially if you are a children's author. Don't forget the PTO/PTA newsletter, too.

Homeowner's Associations
These publications cover anything and everything about the residents, from graduation announcements to birth announcements, so why not your book release or copywriting services?
Don't let the word platform scare you. It's just a matter of remembering who and where you are connected, and that net spreads farther than you think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great list of some alternative methods to getting the word out.

Although it is a very competitive market right now for authors to build a platform, there are still some "unconventional" routes, like the ones you mentioned, that will help garner an audience. The most important thing to to seize every opportunity and to be persistent.

CJM Books