Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Can a Writer’s Conference Help Build Your Platform?

We hear that word a lot these day—Platform. I confess, I used to cringe away from it. The whole concept seemed so overwhelming. Where did one begin?

In February, my first nonfiction book, Winning Him Without Words, released. In July 2012 my first novel, The Soul Saver, will release and is a fiction counter part to Winning Him.

All of this began with a blog and the simple purpose of helping others. That was the “heart” side of it. The practical side slowly came into view as our online presence grew. This dramatically shifted my writing focus. I needed tools to maximize our platform and keep it growing!

Thus, the last two years I focused my conference pursuits to the area of marketing. With the sessions offered at the last two ACFW conferences, I’ve found ways to make that seemingly overwhelming task of building a platform doable and even enjoyable.

And not just from the workshops, but also from talking to other authors and gleaning from their experience as well.

This is truly one of the strengths of the ACFW Conference is the diversity of knowledge and skill levels. Here are some suggestions of when and what to tap into:

1.     Are you just starting to think about building your platform? Now’s the time to be a sponge. Absorb as much as you can from workshops focused on marketing and branding. Talk to other authors and ask where they started. This is where you want to figure out what your market, niche and identity are. Where can you fit in and what need can you fill?

2.     Already know what and whom you’re writing for? Focus on sessions and workshops that give you concrete tools and direction. Talk to authors who have a presence established and ask them, “What’s working the best? What’s not working at all?” Collect as much information as you can with the goal of examining and assessing after you go home. There are a lot of choices out there, so it’s not really about finding the right way but about finding the way that will work best for you. Be discerning. No one can do it all.

3.     Have a growing platform but want to consider new avenues? Here’s where the fun can really start. Make those connections with other authors who share similar goals and topics or genres, and find out how you can help each other. Share concepts and brainstorm possible ideas of working together as small teams to cross promote each other. These are great opportunities to reach more readers and build your presence in more areas.

Before the conference, assess where you’re at and determine what you need most. Then go with that need in mind and stay alert to opportunities to talk to other professionals in the industry. No matter what level you’re at, you’ll find a multitude of resources right at your disposal. And there’s just something fun and stimulating about sharing ideas with others on the same journey.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Falls Like Lightning
Bethany House (July 1, 2011)
Shawn Grady

Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. He is the author of the novels Through the Fire, Tomorrow We Die & Falls Like Lightning.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

After graduating from James Logan High School in Union City, California, Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego as a Theology undergrad. There he found clarity of direction and proceeded on to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.

When hotshot smoke jumper Silas Kent gets his own fire crew, he thinks he's achieved what he's always wanted. But a lightning-sparked fire in the Desolation Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas has his team in a plane before they can even train together.

Pilot Elle Westmore has been called up to drop the crew into the heart of the forest infernos. A single mother of a mysteriously ill six-year-old, she can't imagine her life getting any more complicated.

It doesn't take long for things to go very wrong, very quickly. A suspicious engine explosion forces Elle to make an emergency landing. Silas is able to parachute to safety but soon discovers his crew can't be trusted. They're hiding something, and now Silas is on a race to save himself and Elle from the flames—and from a more dangerous threat: his own team.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Falls Like Lightning, go HERE

I'm a big fan of Shawn Grady's work and can't wait to read this book! Happy reading!