I’ve been asked by the Asian Festival of Children’s Content to write an article for inclusion in an anthology about past faculty. They’d like the title to be, Shirin’s Wish. This is the closest I’ll ever come to being a Miss World contestant: “Well, I would like to wish for world peace.” But of course, that’s not the wish they’re after. They mean what would I wish for as an author or publisher. “Well, I wish that people, millions of people, would be willing to pay more for books, my books, than for plastic junk.” Whoops, a bit negative?
So, after some thought, here’s a more constructive list. I’ve done some research on how to fulfill these wishes, so if you’re an author with similar wishes, you might find a couple of these links interesting.
My three wishes/Chinese New Year resolutions:
1. I wish new technology didn’t scare me.
This might seem an odd one to start with, but I think it gnaws at the liver of many a writer. Building those authors’ platforms seems to involve wielding an intimidating amount of new technology unless you can pay someone else to wield it for you.
Whatever the marketing plan, the rule of thumb I’ve heard is that you should have the following minimum in social media presence:
— An author’s website at yourname.com.
— A professional Facebook page for you the author, not you the aunt.
— A blog. This is in addition to your website, although it can be part of yourname.com.
— At least one of the following, depending on your audience: a tumblr, pinterest, youtube, linkedin or twitter account.
You may know that shirinbridges.com leads, ehem, here. So here’s resolution #1: After looking around, I’m going to use Squarespace to create a professional, e-commerce-optimized website at my proprietary URL. Their templates are fabulous, and MailChimp is a fan. MailChimp’s own user interface is so well designed, their endorsement reassures me that this won’t be so scary.
I’m also behind on the Facebook front. I have two pages: Goosebottom Books, and Shirin the Author Aunt. This is going to be a problem as the latter is private, and the former will not be relevant as part of a platform for my coming novel. So resolution #2: I’m going to build a Shirin Bridges Author page.
The blog I’m doing, as you can see. Yay! And I’ve tweeted more than twice in 2015, so I’m going to consider that box ticked also. Once I have all my recommended channels up, Resolution #3: Hootsuite should help take away the terrors of ad-hoc social media management. Here’s hoping. (Watch this space for a future review.)
2. I wish I could generate more income.
Why bother with all the above? Let’s face it. Almost every author would like to generate more income. Not because we’re greedy souls, but because we need to eat to have the energy to hold up a pen.
For many writers, an authors’ platform is about selling more books. But for me, it’s also about promoting my services. I am the author of more than a dozen books, but I don’t live on my royalties. I also edit, mentor, and teach. (By the way, my next editing slot opens up in April. Please drop me a line if you’d like to book it!)
And not only would I like to teach more, I’d also like to teach more at home. In 2015, I was home for more than four consecutive weeks only twice. So resolution #4, I’m going to learn how to offer online classes, whether they are webinars through a service like BigMarker, or one-on-one consultancy packages communing via Zoom or Skype, or facilitated writers groups with manuscript reviews handled by Google Docs or Box. (If you think you might be interested in any of the above, send me an email. I’d especially love to hear any suggestions for topics.)
3. I wish I could find the time to write.
And that brings us to the proverbial third and last wish, the time to write. Every writer wants more of it. Every writer then fritters away what little we have…by staring into the fridge…or suddenly checking our Spam folders.
I write more on retreat than at any other time, even though I live in a pad that’s pretty retreat-y. You really can’t over-estimate the power of being in community with other serious-minded writers. So, I’m going to make 2016 The Year of the Writers’ Retreat. So far, I have six planned. The first two (in March) are already full, but if you’d like to be wait-listed or informed about the four coming up (one in Australia!) please watch the space to the right, or drop me a line.
So those are my wishes. Unlike world peace, or people buying books instead of junk, I can exert some control over their fulfillment. And that, at least, is a self-empowering way to start this Monkey Year.
Now, I’d better start writing that article…
Good luck and prosperity, and happy writing!