What’s a platform anyway?

A few weeks ago I was a panel member at a writer’s conference workshop. The subject was building a platform. Today, I’d like to share a few points that we made at the workshop. But first, here’s my go-to person for all things writer-ly, Jane Friedman, who tells us what platforms are and are not: "What editors and agents typically mean by platform They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience. Let’s break this down further. Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves? Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.) Prov … [Read more...]

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A successful writers conference appearance

Early Saturday morning, my friend Eleanor Vincent (author of Swimming with Maya) and I drove to the Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys, California to participate in the Digital Author & Indie Publishing Conference. Tony N. Todaro, CEO of West Coast Writers Conferences invited us to appear on a panel discussing Building a Platform and Social Networking later in the morning. Our first task was to be interviewed separately by Nicole Baker, Manager of Author Education at Author Solutions – for twenty minutes on camera. And even though we were each given a list of questions and knew the answers cold, we each churned the night before about what we would say during the interview. I came up with a bulleted list of notes a few days before and felt well-prepared; however, my answers rolled around my head all night. Instead of taking my usual early morning walk on Saturday, I closed my office door  at 6:00 am and went over my notes for an hour. As it turned out, all my churning w … [Read more...]

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Seth Godin – master blogger

I read Seth Godin’s blog everyday. He writes about writing, publishing, marketing, and how ideas are spread. I always find something in his words that I can relate to, and often post a link to his blog on my Facebook timeline. Today, I’m going to share a couple examples, of course giving him full credit and including a link to where I found these posts. For instance, on July 2, 2014, he wrote: It's called self esteem What other people think of you is called "other-people esteem." That's a different thing altogether. If it's better to think well of yourself, then by all means, go ahead. No need to wait for us to do it for you. Without a doubt, uncaring people can tear you down and make this more difficult, but at some point, you can make a choice. Self esteem is something that is done to children, but for adults, it becomes a choice. It's up to you. And this morning he wrote: Burning bridges In action movies, the hero doesn't mind destroying the aircraft, road or bridge he just … [Read more...]

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Tips for leading a conference workshop

Since I participated at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference as both a workshop leader and panelist the end of June, it's time to share a post I wrote for The Memoir Network's Writers Blog in early May on this subject. I very much thank The Memoir Network's founder Denis Ledoux for inviting me to write for his great memoir website. Here's the post verbatim: Promoting yourself as a writer Participating in writing conferences, either as a panelist, lecturer, or as a workshop leader is a great way to get your name and book out in public and to network with other writers like you Being a presenter comes with tasks, but the challenge is not impossible. I’d like to offer you some  guidelines to help you be as successful as you can be to: Respond to a presenters’ request for proposal, Adhere to a list of conference presenter’s guidelines, and Develop a workshop that keeps the promises you proposed – in the specified allotted time. I recently co-led a workshop at the Story … [Read more...]

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The Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference is this weekend

This coming Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, I’ll be moderating two panels at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference. According to its program materials: “West Coast Writers Conferences presents a full weekend of panels, workshops and presentations by educators, noted speakers, and industry professionals focused on the craft and business of writing. “This conference differentiates itself by presenting individual program streams for (what we call the 3-A’s) Aspiring,Active, and Accomplished writers. Topics are offered in progressive streams, so you are immersed all weekend in an exciting and educational environment. You chose your level of participation and areas of interest, and may crossover to other levels at any time. Speakers and panelists are selected based on who is best suited to the curriculum, so you get the most informed workshops and presentations. Along with some perennial favorites, we are pleased to include important new voices and industry experts.” … [Read more...]

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7 awards in one – paying it forward

I am thrilled and  honored to be nominated by author and blogger Kathy Pooler for the 7-in-1 Award—a collection of seven shiny awards all rolled in one. About Kathy: Kathy retired as a  family nurse practitioner  in 2011 after forty-four years as a registered nurse. She and her  husband, Wayne have a blended family of six children, ten grandsons, ages 5-24, and a Golden Retriever, Max. They live on the 135-acre land that used to be Wayne’s grandfather’s dairy farm  where he grows organic vegetables. Life is good. Kathy's goal for 2014 is to publish her first memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: A Memoir About Choices and to complete my second memoir, Hope Matters: A Memoir of Faith. Thank you so much Kathy for nominating me for the 7-in-1 blog award (and thank you for allowing me to use some of your words here). Now it's my turn to nominate some of my favorite blogs for the award as well. First things first: Here are the rules for the 7-in-1 awards: Display the logo on your b … [Read more...]

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Cate Russell-Cole’s advice about Facebook fan pages

There's been a discussion on Facebook in the last couple of days about the benefits or lack of benefits of getting more likes on our fan pages. Also, people are asking if they should pay Facebook for fan page advertising. I've found little benefit in the number of likes my page has and I found absolutely no benefit in paying Facebook to advertise my page. I am a proponent of doing the hard social networking work myself to get my book and me known. Cate Russell-Cole who was my guest on Choices this week just shared her thoughts on this subject. Cate is always finding ways to help her author colleagues out. Here are her wise words on the subject of fan pages.   Help to Solve Your Facebook Fan Page Problems Posted on February 14, 2014 by Cate Russell-Cole I used to advertise on Facebook: until they bought in timeline. Then the value I gained from my community building attempts died a cruel death. Everyone with a Page is now in the same boat: unless we throw in more and … [Read more...]

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Some important events

Even while I work a temporary day job an hour away from my home office and writing room, author events still go on. On Thursday of this week I was interviewed again by Cyrus Webb on Conversations LIVE about my memoir Leaving The Hall Light On. This year we spent a little more time on the impact of mental illness on a family, and I was thrilled to tell the audience about our son Paul's music career. Paul showed an interest in music ("I want to watch a record" "play more Cat Stevens, Mommy") from the time he was a little boy. It just blew me away that Cyrus reread my entire book in preparation for this second interview. Cyrus, you are an interviewer extraordinaire! Please listen to Cyrus and me here: Author Madeline Sharples returns to Conversations LIVE *** And I'm very excited to announce that Sonia Marsh, author of Freeways to Flip-Flops and editor of the My Gutsy Story Anthology, and I will participate on a panel to discuss "Relationship Building: The Secret to Mark … [Read more...]

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Book reviews matter

I’ve written about book reviews before. Frankly I wish they’d all go away. But since I’m an author I have to live with them. I also know that reviews matter. Good ones help sales. Bad ones hurt author’s egos. I reblogged a post about reviews from Kristen Lamb last June. She and I are on the same page about writing bad reviews. We just won’t. We know how much they hurt, and why hurt our author friends and colleagues? And, I’ve had some reviews of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On that were pretty ego-hurting. However, I’m fortunate that most been very positive. Like the one posted on Amazon yesterday. It is so in tune with my sentiments and what I wanted to get across in my book, I have to share it here. My only connection to the reviewer is she contacted me about how to get permission to use a Paul Simon song quote in her own book, and I gave her the information. When she told me she read my book, I asked if she’d write a review. Yesterday she contacted me again to tell me she … [Read more...]

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Twitter at its best

I’ve been listening to Scott Simon’s distinctive voice on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” for years. After reading this article I know he also has a distinctive, elegant, and loving voice via Twitter. For those of us who haven’t yet found a way to take full advantage of Twitter, read Simon’s tweets about the last days of his mother’s life. After reading them myself, I had to share this article with you. Here’s the link if you want to read the entire Los Angeles Times article. You can also listen to Simon's words on the NPR site.   latimes.com NPR's Scott Simon: A vigil for his dying mother, tweeted with love By Matt Pearce This post has been updated, as indicated below. 6:18 PM PDT, July 29, 2013 Scott Simon, a radio host for NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” gave his mother, Patricia Simon Newman Gilband, a very public farewell. Gilband appeared with her son on NPR in 2008, when the pair bantered as she shared stories from her life in Chicago. “Well, I think the thing I have l … [Read more...]

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Support your local bookstore

I'm so in love with my local bookstore Pages: a bookstore, I support it whenever I can. And it has supported me as well. I've had three readings there. I hope you will do the same to make sure we keep our bookstores alive. In view of that here is a post I just came across from the Book Marketing Expert, reprinted with his permission. Let's work hard to prevent bookstores from going away. Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com What Happens if Bookstores Go Away? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That sentence alone is enough to send chills down my spine. No bookstores? I can't imagine a world without them. Yet the fact of the matter is, that's likely where we are headed. I don't often share this, but you know that term "bucket list"? One of my bucket list items is to get locked in a bookstore overnight - with a fully-functioning Starbucks … [Read more...]

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Introducing my guests

For a change of pace I’m going to devote the next three weeks to the voices of other wonderful and experienced writers and publishers. I’ve asked eight people whom I’ve either met personally or online to tell you about their writing, publishing, and marketing experiences. I feel so fortunate that they have agreed to be my guests here on Choices. I hope you will keep coming back for more and more. You’ll find the information interesting and very helpful to your writing lives. Here’s my guest lineup in order of appearance: Sharon Lippincott       November 26 Sharon is the author of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, knows she's been successful. Her insightful questions and observations have challenged people in many areas for decades. Today they are primarily aimed at students in her lifestory and creative writing classes along with readers of her blog, forum posts, book reviews, and other publications. Kathleen Pooler       November 29 Kathy is a writ … [Read more...]

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Book tour report

The first event was a National Association of Memoir Writers roundtable with Linda Joy Meyers on the subject of: Keeping Your Book Alive Part I and II: Advice for authors who Need a New Publisher; Low-cost/no-cost Marketing Ideas I sat with Mike O’Mary, owner and publisher at, while we talked about what to do if your publisher goes out of business and what it's like to "start over" with a new publisher. And as you probably know already the loss of my original publisher was a blessing in disguise. Mike and I met for the first time just before we went on the air, and he is the dream of Dream of Things. During the roundtable, Mike and I also talked about what it takes to promote your memoir in today's marketplace, including a variety of low-cost and no-cost ideas that any author can use to promote his/her book. Here’s the link to this roundtable. Mike has a wealth of information about ways to promote your book. Mike orchestrated the next four book tour events for his other mem … [Read more...]

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Book marketing – is there ever enough?

Okay, I’m on to another marketing project. I was overwhelmed and indeed impressed by the numbers of blogs Jessica Bell is going to visit during her two-week book launch blog tour for her soon to-be-released, String Bridge. And that got me thinking I hadn’t visited nearly enough blogs at the time of my book launch. I visited one blog a day for about three weeks, and she’s going to have interviews and reviews on up to seven or eight blogs a day for two weeks. Plus she’s going to have a whole lot of these same folks and more hit Amazon on the day of the book’s release. Now that’s using the network to the fullest, I would say. With my friend Susan at my book launch with Ben in the background I asked her how she amassed such a list and she admitted it was a lot of work. She reads and comments on all the blogs on her list regularly. And that’s why she felt she was justified in asking them to do this book marketing favor for her. I know that’s true. Jessica visits and comments on m … [Read more...]

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The Business of Writing: The Importance of Marketing

Besides all the work I’m doing to revise and edit my memoir manuscript I’ve been laying the groundwork for a marketing campaign once the book is published. In fact, I’m drumming up interest already – several months in advance. In addition to posting regularly on my blogs Choices and Red Room, I have created a Facebook page devoted exclusively to book news, writing tips, and writing-related quotes. (In just two weeks I’ve amassed a fan base of 125.) I am also posting regularly on Twitter. In addition, I’ve amassed many friends in the business of writing and publishing on my personal Facebook page. After contacting several of my poetry publishers about my book, I’m excited to report that they too are ready to help in the marketing campaign. One publisher plans to post a profile about me on its blog. Another has offered a free add in its magazine. And it doesn’t stop there. One of my writing teachers plans to write about the book in her newsletter, and I’ve laid the groundwork fo … [Read more...]

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