Building an Author Platform

article by 
Cindy Vine

Sometimes all we start off with is a dream. A dream to be a published author. In our free time we write, cursing distractions, but determined to get that book out. Unfortunately, having the dream and writing the book is not enough. You are expected to be a marketer as well and do all your own marketing. For many authors this is the challenging part. You are already restricted with time, many holding down a full-time job and writing on the side, the very idea of doing one’s own marketing is almost enough to give up the dream.

Let’s just get one thing straight. Marketing is not door to door selling or parking your car in the parking area of the local mall selling books out of the trunk. Internet marketing is very different and involves creating your author platform. This can be done in the comfort of your own home and will take up an hour or two of your time every day if you want to do it properly.

There are FIVE ways you can build your author platform. There are other ways but these are the most important.

Article writing – join a site like Hubpages.com and write articles about some of your favourite subjects. You can earn a little bit of money on the side, but most importantly you get your writing out there, amass loyal followers and start building yourself a presence on the web.

Social media – whether it’s tweeting on Twitter, status updates on Facebook, pinning pictures on Pininterest, or participating in groups on Linkedin, Goodreads or Shelfari, social media is the way to connect with would-be readers and get your name out there.


Website – it is imperative that you set up an author website or a book website. You don’t have to know much about designing websites to be able to do it. You don’t have to spend a fortune either on hiring a web designer. All you have to do is go to a hosting provider like Go Daddy, buy a domain name, and sign up for WordPress through Go Daddy. The templates are designed for the technically-challenged, all you have to do is follow the instructions. There are many tutorials available for free on the net if you want to get a little more elaborate, that will explain step-by-step what you need to do.
  
Blogging – sign up for a blog at WordPress or Blogger. Try and come up with original content, always include an image, keep your blog posts short about 300-500 words, controversial and humor is good and promote your blog posts through your Social Media. Part of blogging is not just writing your own posts but also commenting on other blogger’s posts. It’s all about making those connections and getting your name out there. She Writes is a great blogging site for women. You can get your blog listed there, join groups and make connections with like-minded people who would probably love to support you by reading your blog.  
BOOK OR HOST A TOUR AT THE CAFE

Virtual Book/Blog Tour – this is another great way to get your name out there in cyberspace. Writing guest posts for other bloggers, being exposed to a different set of followers, all this helps to build your author platform. You can sign up with different marketers like Virtual Book Café to get them to organize and manage your blog-hopping tour. Or if you have friends with blogs you can arrange it all yourself but that can be a little time-consuming especially if you are already stretched for time.

Your author platform is something you need to get working on as soon as you make the decision to write a book. Don’t try and do everything all at once, you’ll become far to overwhelmed. Start off with baby steps. The blog, the website, social media. But remember to restrict your author platform building to a couple of hours a day otherwise it can take over your life! Good luck!

Contacts:   Website       Blog      Fanpage       Twitter       Hubpages       Email

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Do your kids ever really leave? 


Fenella Fisher and Suki Rabinowitz are middle-aged single mothers whose children have left home and started on their own lives and careers. But Suki’s son Josh is a cocaine-addict who supposedly fathered a baby on a visit to the UK; and Fenella’s daughter Kirsty has just been dumped and is feeling miserable. 


Fenella and Suki decide they need to step in to help their children and hatch a plan to sort out Josh’s mess and find Kirsty a suitable man, with some hilarious consequences. 


After interviewing prospective husbands for Kirsty at Waves Restaurant and Bar, they discover that a good man is hard to find.

 A teacher, writer, mother – Cindy
Vine was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has lived and worked in many
different countries around the world. 



She currently resides in Tanzania at the
foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Cindy has three children, two of whom have already
left home. 



Writing and reading has been a passion of hers since she was a young
girl.




Click to read two sample chapters.

Chapter 10
Fun-loving,
creative free-spirited young woman looking for a life partner

Travel, art and adventure are my middle names.  Conservative is out and not in my
repertoire.  Control freak does not
feature in my life dictionary.  Cheap and
miserly are not welcome in my universe. 
If you are intelligent with a sense of humour, a stable job and a six
pack, then please contact me so I can get to know you.’
Suki
had said short and sweet was better.  Men
on dating sites couldn’t be bothered to read long diatribes; they were in too
much of a hurry to meet their ideal woman. 
So Fenella had complied.  With
quite a bit of eye rolling and laughter, the two had bandied about words until
they were satisfied.  “Leave it to stew
for 24 hours before we check for any bites,” Suki had suggested and Fenella had
done just that.  Twenty-four hours had passed.  Throughout the day Fenella had kept looking
at the clock on the kitchen wall.  Since
the invention of cell phones she had stopped wearing her watch.  In fact, she had no idea where it was or
where she’d last seen it.  It had been a
gift, she couldn’t even remember who’d given it to her.  It had been about a decade ago for a
birthday, she thought.  Suki was
late.  Before she left the day before
she’d made Fenella promise not to open up Kirsty’s profile page and look at the
replies.  She wanted to be a part of the
action, which Fenella supposed was only fair seeing that this whole internet
dating thing had been her idea.  Where
the hell was Suki?  Fenella was just
about to succumb to temptation and open up the webpage when the doorbell rang.
“976
replies!  I told you!”  Suki had an excited sparkle in her eyes.  She looked quite animated, Fenella thought,
feeling less excited herself.  Well,
maybe she was a little excited, but quite a bit apprehensive as well about the
whole damn thing.  “So what we need to do
first is delete the weirdoes and creeps.”
“I
thought you said there weren’t weirdoes, creeps and psychopaths on this
website!” exclaimed Fenella feeling rather naïve about that kind of stuff.
“Um,
not really, well some but sort of.  They
are far less weirdish and freakish on this site than on some of the other
sites,” said Suki clicking on links and deleting emails at quite a pace.  “Yuck! 
Yugh!  Ugggg!”
Fenella
peeped over Suki’s shoulder only to see a picture of an erect penis filling her
screen.  “And you were saying?”
“Some
creepos still slip through, like that one. 
So what we do is reduce these responses to our top few hundred.”
“Few
hundred?  Few hundred!”  Fenella was in shock.  There was no way she was interviewing a few
hundred young men.  “I’m not sure about
this Suki.  I’m not sure if it’s worth
it.  These interviews…I don’t think I can
do it.”  Falling back onto her chair
Fenella began to fan herself.  A panic
attack seemed to be developing as the heat started from her head and seemed to
spread down to her toes.  It was either
that or a hot flush and the start of menopause.
Suki
sat upright on the dining table chair glaring at Fenella with her hands on her
hips.  “Do you or do you not want Kirsty
to give you grandchildren and make you a granny?
For
someone who wasn’t that tall Suki could be quite intimidating.  “I…er…do want Kirsty to have children one
day.  But Suki, there has to be another
way.  I can’t sit through a date with a
few hundred men and interview them.  My
school holiday doesn’t last forever and I don’t want to use it all up
on…this!”  Fenella pointed at the
computer screen.  If she didn’t go and
fetch herself some ice water from the fridge she was going to self-combust.
Suki
folded her arms and scowled.  “You may be
right.  Logistically and time-wise to set
up a few hundred dates is improbable. 
You wouldn’t be giving each applicant the attention they deserve.  And if we do a rush job then we won’t get the
best.  Let me think a minute.  We probably need more coffee,” said Suki
draining the dregs from her mug.  Fenella
had hardly touched hers.  Coffee was the
last thing on her mind.  The last thing
she felt like doing was pouring more heat into her already overheating body!
“You
want that special blend again?”
“Yeah,
that East African one again.  I love the
taste, the aroma.  Can’t believe you
never brought me back a bag!”  The truth
was that Fenella had spent ages dithering about what to buy Suki.  It was so hard to buy a gift for a woman who
had everything and was fussy to boot. 
She often criticised Fenella’s style choices, although to be honest,
baggy t-shirts and track pants were probably on the unflattering side.  After wandering around browsing for what
seemed like hours, she’d settled for an ornately carved wooden box similar to
the Swahili carved wooden doorways she’d fallen in love with.  It was always risky buying Suki jewellery as
she tended to only wear pieces completely out of Fenella’s price range.  So a box it had been but in retrospect coffee
would have been better.  Fenella hadn’t
even thought about coffee as a gift.
With
the coffee brewing and the machine making its happy sounds, Fenella joined Suki
in front of her laptop at the dining room table.  “Any bright ideas yet?  Or should we just delete this profile?”
Glaring
at Fenella Suki leaned forward to hug the keyboard protectively.  “No don’t touch!  No deleting, I have an idea as surprising as
it may sound.”
Fenella
gave an eye roll.  “Seriously Suki,
covering up my keyboard like that.  How
old are you?”
“Never
trust a woman who tells you her age,” Suki countered.  “I know what we are going to do.  It’s perfect. 
In fact so perfect, I think I should patent the idea.”
Fenella
groaned.  This wasn’t sounding good.  It was building up to one of Suki’s
hare-brained schemes she could tell. 
“Okay, stop keeping me hanging in suspense.  What’s the idea?”
Suki
gave a little shake of her shoulders and sat up straight.  “We,” she paused dramatically for effect,
“Are going to set up a mass date.”
Groaning
out loud Fenella held her head in her hands. 
“Don’t tell me you are suggesting what I think you are suggesting.”
“We
email our top few hundred, say something witty, hook them further.  A little saucy repartee.  Not all will reply, but many will and then we
suggest a meeting.  We give all our short
list the same date and time to be at a venue we pick.”
“A
few hundred doesn’t sound like a short list to me!”
“Oh
stop being negative,” Suki pouted.  “Then
we casually wander among them and check them out.  We can take a notebook and make notes.  We might even strike up some idle chit-chat
with some of them.”
“Are
we going to introduce ourselves and tell them why they’re there?  Some of them might be pissed to find they’re
part of a mass date.  I’m not sure about
this.”  Fenella chewed on her lip.  Suki’s plan sounded very flawed to her ears.
“No
silly of course not!  We’re not asking
for trouble.  We check them out like we
just coincidentally happened to be there at the same time.  They’ll think their date stood them up.  We can make up some excuse when we email the
ones we liked later.  Do you think we
might need a checklist for our prospects?”
Suki
was on a roll and Fenella knew she would not be deterred.  This plan would go ahead even though Fenella
had grave reservations about it.  “So
where will we meet them?”
Suki
threw her arms around Fenella, giving her a suffocating hug.  “I knew you’d come on board!  I was thinking that new restaurant/bar on the
beachfront we’ve been going to.  Waves.  It’s quite big inside and should accommodate
all our prospectives.  We should get the
owner to give us commission as we’ll be increasing his business on a normally
quiet week night.  Don’t look at me like
that I’m just joking.  About the
commission part, that is.” 
Fenella
gave a thin smile.  She felt quite
drained.  This reminded her of why she
hated dating and was content to remain single. 
It was just too much hard work and unnecessary stress.  No wonder people elected to stay in bad
relationships.  “Let me pour that
coffee.  You sure this will work?”  Suki nodded, grinning and humming to herself
as she turned back to scroll through the responses to the ad on the dating
site.  In a way Fenella was glad that
finding Kirsty a man had made Suki’s other problem with that woman in Cornwall,
take a back seat.  She felt bad keeping
Kirsty’s news about Josh a secret from her friend.  But then again, she was sure that Suki had
kept secrets from her about Kirsty she’d heard over the years.  Lying by omission.  It was something everybody did to protect
those they cared about.
Chapter 11
Fenella
was so nervous that it affected her driving. 
She forgot to stop at a pedestrian crossing and nearly knocked over an
old woman in a tweed skirt with a walking frame.  Before she could shout an apology out of the
window the woman gave her the middle finger. 
“Oh dear God I don’t think I can do this,” she said to her reflection in
her car mirror as she watched the old woman make her way slowly across the
road. 
Conversely,
Suki was in a state of euphoria, overflowing with excitement and had been
driving Fenella crazy by calling her every five minutes throughout the
day.  They had agreed not to meet for
their usual lunch date.  Suki had the
password and username and had been chatting to some of the prospects on email
throughout the day.  She’d even set up a
fake Hotmail account and emailed the details to Fenella in case she wanted to
add to the conversations.  meltingmoments@hotmail.com.  Fenella had to be honest – the choice of name
did bother her, and when she’d plucked up the courage to check out some of the
emails, they had given her a reason to be bothered.  Some of the men were quite lewd and quite
explicit with their descriptions of what they planned to do to Kirsty when they
met her.  It made Fenella very uneasy
indeed which was made worse by the fact that Suki was actively flirting with
these men and egging them on, encouraging them. 
Fenella was anything but a prude, but some of those things some men were
saying nearly made her blush.
 “Am definitely feeling all of my fifty years
tonight,” Fenella mumbled as she pulled her car into a parking spot in front of
Waves Restaurant and Bar.  “And if Suki
doesn’t turn up, I’ll…I’ll…I’ll frigging kill her!”
There
were only three other cars in the car park. 
Fenella and Suki had planned to arrive early at 5.30pm and have a few
cocktails before eating the fabulous grilled calamari for dinner; the male
prospects would only be arriving at 8pm. 
Fenella wasn’t sure her nerves would hold the length of time of the
wait.  She hated waiting for anything; it
was her pet hate, and the anticipation for the arrival of these men was
definitely going to kill her.  She could
hear her heart beating in her ears and she was sure she was going to have a
panic attack.  A car pulled into the
vacant spot next to her and Fenella was relieved to see the comforting figure
of Suki behind the wheel.
Suki
was dressed to kill.  Stiletto’s so high
she looked like she had the Petronas Towers tied to the soles of her shoes,
which made her shapely legs look even longer and slimmer than normal.  Her short bright orange dress which showed
off her fabulous tan fluttered in the sea breeze making her look youthful, at
least twenty years younger much to Fenella’s disgust.  Her long dark hair had been professionally
styled; she looked amazing.  Fenella in
comparison felt like an old frump.  She’d
gone for a pair of what her kids called ‘mommy-jeans’ because they had an
elastic waist, Ugg boots, a white shirt and a short black jacket.  Silver hoop earrings completed her
ensemble.  “Fenella!” shouted Suki as she
tottered towards her.
“Thank
God you came,” said Fenella with such a feeling of relief it made her almost
light-headed.
“What
do you mean, ‘Thank God you came’?  Of
course I came!  I helped set this all up
and wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Come
along, time for some drinky-poos!” 
Fenella shook her head as Suki tried to walk across the gravel on those
heels.  They should be sold with a
‘hazardous to your health’ sticker on them. 
Definitely a dangerous pair of shoes. 
Fenella wondered if you would be able to stab someone through the heart
with a heel.  Maybe the shoes would come
in useful if they needed to defend themselves against too-amorous men.
“Hold
on!  Give me your arm and let me support
you before you break a leg or something.” 
Fenella couldn’t believe how Suki had changed since her husband had
died.  The years of forced demureness and
conservatism when she’d been an Orthodox wife had been dumped faster than
Hollywood actors dumped girlfriends. 
This was the Suki she’d known as a teenager, the dowdy Suki had been a
stranger inhabiting her body.  This Suki
had reclaimed her youth.
“Oh
Fenella, you are not going to believe some of the emails I got today,” said
Suki as she stumbled onto her chair at the table on the balcony overlooking the
beach the waiter had shown them to.  “Did
you manage to log in and read any of them?”
“I
read a couple, but some of them are just too creepy for my liking.  All they want is sex.”
“Well,
they are men after all you know. 
Hunters, gatherers, procreators. 
You know, little bundles of hormones. 
Oops, here comes little Mister Macho himself,” as an obviously
testosterone-challenged waiter minced his way over to take their drinks order
in his painted on black jeans.
“Your
usual?” Fenella asked Suki.  They both
ordered Screwdrivers without fail every time they went for cocktails.
“No,”
said Suki staring out at the waves breaking on the beach, “Sex on the Beach for
me please.  It’s good to try something
new and expand your comfort zone,” she added when she saw Fenella look at her
with a raised brow.
“Whatever.”  Fenella still had an uneasy feeling about the
evening.  “So tell me about some of the
guys coming.”
“Well,
357 replied to my initial response to their response to Kirsty’s profile
ad.  I’ve been chatting with about 180 or
so of them all day.  It’s draining, I
tell you.  I got clever though, typed up
a couple of standard responses which I just copied and pasted and tweaked a
bit.  Most of them ask the same things,
so it was easy to come up with a standard template.”  Suki rolled her eyes.  “I have to say this is definitely using up my
limited computer skills.”
Fenella
looked at Suki in horror.  “There are
going to be 180 men arriving here tonight? 
Are you frigging crazy?  How are
they all going to fit in here and not know something is going on?”
Suki
held up a hand.  “Calm down and stop
sounding hysterical.  I said I was
chatting to 180, I didn’t say they were all coming.”  Fenella sunk back in her chair, feeling only
slightly relieved.  “Only about thirty or
so confirmed they were actually coming. 
Some tried to change it to a lunch meeting.  My guess is those ones are married and trying
to arrange a matinee performance so that their wife doesn’t find out.  A few others had other arrangements, busy
little boys that they are.  And the
others never bothered to reply to the invitation.”
“Maybe
they hadn’t checked their emails yet.” 
Fenella found Suki’s nonchalant attitude quite disconcerting.
“Their
loss.  The time, date and name of the
restaurant was quite clear.  I didn’t
give directions.  I figured that would be
a part of the test.  If they wanted to
meet Kirsty badly enough, they’d Google it and find out how to get here.  It would be a sign of creative ingenuity.”
“So
how many did you actually send the invitation email to?”  Fenella had a horrible gut feeling she knew
the answer, but hoped and prayed that she was wrong.
“The
357.”
“What!”  Fenella stood up so quickly she knocked her
chair over, causing the waiter to hurry over in his skin-tight black jeans.
“Sit
down and stop causing a scene,” Suki commanded. 
“We’ll be lucky if ten arrive. 
Men are all talk, you know that. 
I thought it’s a bit like cold-calling when you do sales and
marketing.  You have to call 80 people to
get one sale.’
Fenella
couldn’t help but speak through gritted teeth. 
“That is selling vacuum cleaners, Suki. 
From those flirtatious emails you sent this is selling sex.  You’ll get far more bites at the cherry
selling sex than vacuum cleaners you idiot!” 
Fenella covered her eyes with her hand. 
Maybe if she tried hard enough, she could will a migraine to develop so
that she could leave and go home sick. 
“Why did I ever listen to you? 
Why, why, why!” Fenella uncovered her eyes and banged her fist on the
table.
“It’ll
be okay; stop panicking.  Seriously, this
is going to be the funnest evening of your life.”
“There’s
no such word as funnest,” Fenella said dryly.
“I
know that you moron.  God, where’s you
sense of humour?  Funnest sounds
cute.”  Suki made her mouth go down at
the corners in a mock sulk.
“Cute
is for babies, toddlers and puppies.  Not
for old women of fifty!  Waiter!  Can I please have a double vodka and orange
juice?  Actually, bring me two.  I’m suddenly feeling in need of a couple of
stiff drinks.”
“Fenella,”
Suki called in a stage whisper, “Don’t make it obvious and turn around, but one
of our prospects has just arrived and is sitting about five tables behind
you.  I recognise him from the photo he
sent.  Hmm, he’s early; must have decided
to have dinner first like us.”
“How
can I look at him without turning if he’s behind me, you fool!” Fenella hissed.
“Those
two at the bar, could be as well.  Oo,
this is getting exciting.”  Suki took her
sip of her drink.  Fenella thought Suki
was definitely enjoying this way too much.
“So
run it by me again,” said Fenella as the waiter placed two drinks in front of
her, “How exactly is this going to work?”
“They
all think that they are going to be meeting Kirsty.  They know what she looks like because they’ve
seen the photo.  They all think they are
the only one she’s meeting.  I didn’t let
on it’s going to be a mass date.  I said
she’d be wearing a white mini dress, so they’ll be looking for a woman wearing
that.”
“Kirsty
would never wear a white mini dress!  Her
skin is much too fair”
“But
Kirsty isn’t really going to be here in that dress now, is she?”
“How
are we supposed to suss them out and find the perfect one without letting on
who we are?”  Suki’s plan was starting to
sound more and more flawed by the minute. 
What they were doing was crazy.
“Another
one has arrived.  They all seem to be
coming early!”  Suki was not being
discreet about checking the men out at all.
“Suki,
I have a feeling we might have a lot more than ten.  I think we need to order our food quickly,
eat and then get the hell out of here.” 
Fenella signalled the waiter.
“You
might be right,” whispered Suki.  “Look
outside.”  Men seemed to be appearing
from everywhere.  Standing casually on
the beach looking at the waves, parking their cars, walking along the
beachfront; and the bar was starting to fill up as well.
“You
didn’t think the men would get annoyed when Kirsty never turned up?”  Fenella’s stomach constricted when she glanced
up to see a beautiful blonde girl with a dark tan and a white mini dress walk
up to the bar.  “Oh shit!  I don’t believe it!”
“What?  What?” 
Suki craned her neck to see what had alerted Fenella.  “Oh God, no!” 
Suki gave a giggle.  “Of all the
rotten luck!”
“This
is not funny Suki!  That poor girl is
going to be harassed by hordes of men.”
Suki
gave another giggle, “It is funny Fenella, you have to admit it’s hilarious.”
Fenella
chuckled, “A dark haired girl in a white sun dress has just arrived.  Actually, it is quite funny.  The best laid plans of mice and men eh?  Ah waiter. 
Can you bring us our bill please? 
We won’t be having dinner here after all.”
“KFC
or Macdonalds drive-thru?” suggested Suki downing her drink in one swallow.
“And then come to my house for a night cap and we can discuss our next plan of
action.”
“This
plan didn’t work at all.”  Fenella was
tempted to say ‘I told you so.’
“You’re
right, but at least we know that now.  We
wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t try it. 
Haha these guys are going to be so pissed.  How many can you count?”
“At
least thirty and it’s only six thirty! 
Far too much testosterone and naked aggression in this room; we need to
leave now.”  Fenella stood up and swung
her bag over her shoulder.  “We can
settle the bill as we go out.  Some guy
has just made a move on the blonde.” 
As
they walked to their respective cars, they noted men just milling about, some
staring at the sea and others looking up at Waves Restaurant and Bar.  Definitely more than the ten Suki had
anticipated had actually turned up!

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