Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
People are funny. Back during the cold war, the wife of a Russian friend of mine kept calling to ask him to come home. Vladimir, she would say, I cannot take care of the kids and do the shopping too! When she came to visit, the complaints continued. That is, until she visited a local department store. At that point she was lost in choices. She asked: how do you Americans ever know what to buy?
As a first-time author, I feel a bit like Vladimir’s wife amid all the publishing alternatives. At least 4 intimidating questions arise:
- Which stylebook should I follow?
- Do I promote my writing with a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media?
- Do I self-publish, hire an agent, or look for an established publisher?
- Do I publish in paperback, hardcover, or eBook?
Worse, the questions are not interdependent of one another. In the middle of all this uncertainty, Chip MacGregor’s book, The Extroverted Writer, offers welcome guidance.
MacGregor starts by observing that agents and publishers advise wannabe writers to establish a platform, but offer no guidance on what a platform is or how to get one. He defines a platform as the number of people who follow you online, attend your speaking engagements or are otherwise know about your work. For nonfiction writers, he talks about tens to hundreds of thousands of followers; for fiction writers maybe half that many (12-14). Obviously, establishing a viable platform takes time and effort. MacGregor’s objective in writing is to offer ideas, rules, and advice to help you establish this platform and at least 10 action items to work on (1-3).
- Know your audience,
- Know your goals,
- How to use this book,
- Facebook, and
- Miscellaneous Social Media Sites.
Obviously, for MacGregor a platform consists of a theme, an audience, and a social media presence. Interestingly, this book does not cite a publisher, but is listed on Amazon.com as published by CreateSpace which implies that this book is self-published.
MacGregor starts his social media advice by focusing on the need for writers to have a website (17). A website signals 3 things to agents and publishers:
- You are serious about your career,
- You are not afraid to use the web to promote yourself, and
- They can check you out without committing to a relationship.
Having established the motivation for a website, MacGregor gives advice on quality points to look for in the website. These points summarize in making the point that a website has effectively become an online resume—it must have eye appeal, be informative, and point to your blog where you show your skills (23-24) .
Chip MacGregor’s The Extroverted Writer is a useful author guide and a fun book to read. Missing perhaps is a reflection on the role of branding–being known for your expertise, not just your following. For example, why do many boutique publishers have fewer followers than authors with a platform under MacGregor’s guidelines? Still, MacGregor clearly met his objective in writing. In each of his social media chapters, I found actionable tips on what to do—easily meeting his goal of leaving me with 10 tips. Personally, I found his advice on using professional pages in Facebook and on organizing a book giveaway particularly helpful. I am sure you will too.
1/ In the corporate world, content production and marketing likewise needs to carefully planned (bit.ly/1igPRHp).