At my age, hindsight is the only sight that’s 20/20. And as I approach the on-ramp to 62 towing decades of the stuff, I’m fueled by a burning desire to preach “the gospel of what I learned the hard way.” My kids just tune me out and make their own mistakes. If you want to do the same, stop reading right now. I’ll never know, and you won’t have to make that face at me.
Still here? Okay, let’s talk carts and horses. As in, which comes first? Easy, right? I mean, come on, nobody with a single working gray cell would put the cart first. Unless, of course, you can’t tell your cart from your horse.
See, that was my problem. I thought the book was the horse. Get that filly up on Amazon, and let ‘er buck! Yeeehaaw! (As we say in Texas.)
Now I know better. The horse, my friends, is your author platform—your brand, your identity, your web presence. Without that horse to pull it, your cart won’t go anywhere but downhill. And gravity never made a bestseller out of anybody.
You can tweet. You can Facebook. You can blog yourself blue in the face, but unless you weave all those elements into a tapestry that says, “This is who I am, and this is why you should read my books,” you might as well spit in the ocean. ‘Cuz Amazon’s an ocean, and (unless you’re Robert Crais or Tess Gerritsen or James Patterson) you’re a drop. Maybe a plump drop, but a drop all the same.
So here I sit with my barn door open, belatedly trying to coral the horse. First, I had to admit I blew it. Like, “Hi, my name is Kathy, and I put my cart before my horse.” Then I looked for somebody to tell me how the heck to get it right. I needed some experts.
I found them at Fostering Success. Not a free service, but a reasonably priced one, and so far, worth every blessed penny. There are other resources offering information for free, but I was overwhelmed when I tried to plow through a hundred or so, plus, I’d had some interaction with the Fostering Folks before and knew they had good stuff to say.
Make no mistake, I’m not saying they’re the resource for you. In my book they’re top notch, but budgets are a fact of life, and yours may not support paid advice. So do the research. Check out the websites of your favorite authors and take notes. Join indie author groups like the World Literary Cafe, the Independent Author Network, and the Independent Author Index. Ask fellow authors to critique your site, your Twitter page, whatever. There are plenty of resources to help you discover your brand, develop it, and get it out there.
Do it. Start today.
‘Cuz nothing beats a good horse.