Author Platforms

Author Platforms

Natalie Bright


Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.

For more about Colleen, visit her website here

Hometown Promotions

Hometown Promotions

By Natalie Bright

There’s a line in a country song that goes, “everyone dies famous in a small town”.

How many of your neighbors, coworkers, or in-laws even know that you’re a writer?

Local Fame and Fortune

We have a renowned New York Times Bestselling author here, who’ve I’ve known since she first became published. She now has a huge fan base, both locally and internationally, and she’s worked hard for it.

In the 25 years that we’ve been friends, I’ve known her to do many, many local talks for free, even though she commands major fees around the country. She rarely turns down an invitation to speak at local library fundraisers, book club meetings, or organization lunches. She’s become extremely popular with the Red Hat groups. Her programs include a tidbit of the characters and settings of her stories yet to be published. She’s not only selling her current list, she’s introducing herself and creating a fan base for works in progress. Her Fan Club has grown by leaps and bounds. Usually 100-200+ people show up at her local book signings for new releases.

Sometimes neighbors can be your biggest supporters. When I started out as a nobody writer several years ago, I’ve tried to emulate that train of thought.

Put Yourself Out There. Should You Charge?

Kid Lit authors are highly encouraged to decline school visits unless the school pays a fee because it sets a precedent in the area. I come from that small town mentality where everyone pitches in when asked and volunteerism is the way of doing things.

Right after college, I volunteered at our local historical museum where I spoke to thousands of kids during spring field trips. Today, some of those same teachers ask me to visit their classrooms. I can drop my kids off at their schools around 7:30, make it to the gig to talk about writing, and be back to my day job desk by 10:00. The kids get an inexpensive pencil with my website or a bookmark with my picture and bio. A 2nd grader told me last week, “I don’t want you to leave.” Another one whispered, “I’m writing a story, too.” For me, it’s about connecting with kids.

The publishing business moves at a snail’s pace. I’m making every effort to keep my name out there as a writer, and all it takes is my time and a .39 cent pencil. I’ve never considered charging the schools in our district, where my friends teach and my children have been enrolled since kindergarten.

Sometimes New Opportunity Means Practice

A friend’s daughter asked me to talk in the Dallas area for a reading event. The inner-city school had very limited funds so I agreed to talk for free. I’ve never done a power point for 700 elementary kids, but it seemed like a great opportunity since I’d be in the area anyway for a conference. This teacher is a tech-whiz so she helped with audio-visual set-up in the gym. I did my program for the first 300+, she offered suggestions to improve the clarity of content, and it went even better for the next group. I have the confidence to do it again. Sometimes new opportunity affords you a practice run, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Explore Your Town

Here’s that small-town mindset again: your time is free and it costs you nothing to give it away. Everyone you know can open doors to new opportunity. I usually say yes to everything because it always leads to something else. I’m not talking about selling out as a professional, hard selling, or pounding a group over the head about buying your book. I’m talking about networking and connecting with people who live in your neighborhood.

Show up, give them more than they expected, thank them for their time, eat the free meal, and leave your postcard bio. Odds are someone will ask if you have any books with you. Odds are good you’ll get an invitation to come back, or you’ll be asked to speak to another group because of the contacts you made. Odds are even better that someone will look at your website, perhaps follow you on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t forget to send a hand-written thank you note to the person who invited you. They may not buy a book today, but they know your name.

Selling Books

Marketing and promotion is a marathon, and who has the most depth and understanding about your stories? You can relay that passion about your novels better than anybody else. As authors, WE UNDERSTAND it’s business and all about building a platform and selling books, but not everybody has to know that.



Book Promotion Analysis

Book Promotion Analysis

By Natalie Bright

If you don’t tell anyone about your book, there’s no way they can read it. It’s a basic concept, yet crucial, and with social media at your fingertips the opportunity to tell everyone about your story is endless.

In Your Face

In my opinion, it’s not an opportunity for you to hammer Facebook friends and Twitter followers with constant barrage of “buy my book”. I’ve had to unfollow several authors who take this to the excess. I’m following you as a novelist because I’m interested in YOU as well as your books. Where did your idea come from, your writing process, your hobbies, the weather where you live, places you’ve been to research stories? However, a pic of your recent surgical procedure and wound is definitely TMI. Please don’t over share. What information do you think crosses the boundaries?

Some authors feel more comfortable in keeping a low profile online. I’m always surprised when I discover a great book, but can’t find a website for the author. On the other hand, one author explained that she feels her readers are interested in not only her books, but her personal world as a writer and person. She friends and follows everyone. Two schools of thought; which one do you prefer?


Several weeks ago, I blogged about target markets. There are so many amazing tools and apps through a multitude of social media sights enabling you to pinpoint people based on their interests, purchases, careers, etc. I receive several eNewsletters every week on the subject. It truly is mind boggling. Rather than spend a lot of time analyzing and targeting, much the same way that I feel about learning WordPress, I’ve taken a different route. I don’t want to learn how to build a website or graph a bar chart or profile my facebook friends based on their socio economic status. I just want to write. For me, promotion is an ongoing process via a myriad of social media outlets.

Keeping it Simple

One piece of advice about promotion came from Debbie Macomber, and has stuck in my mind for many years. When speaking at a writing conference in Amarillo, she highly recommended that every author add this book to their reference library, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer. Ms. Macomber also advised us to take one piece of advice from this book to heart and never forget: do one thing every day to promote yourself as a professional author, your work, or the industry of books and reading.


Just One Thing

Writing this blog is my one thing, along with promoting another author’s book about marketing in said blog. That’s two things. I guess I’m done for the day. Now back to writing!

What are you using to target readers for your books? How are you spreading the word? Do you think some authors go overboard with the sales pitching?

Happy writing!

Selling Books for 25 Years

Selling Books for 25 Years

by Natalie Bright

The Amarillo Downtown Library hosted a reception this month to celebrate Jodi Thomas’ 25 year career as a published author. With millions of books in print, numerous awards, and four RITA’s, the prestigious golden statue from the Romance Writer’s of America, this lady deserves a celebration. We also recognized ten years of  The Jodi Thomas Fan Club, which can boast of a membership that spans across the country.

Her fans in Amarillo were delighted to have an autographed copy of the newest historical, PROMISE ME TEXAS (Berkley), the 7th novel in her popular Whispering Mountain Series. Jodi shared news about her upcoming projects, reminding us that inspiration continues to come from the members of her fan club. She knows that we’re anxiously awaiting each and every one.

Autographings and Booksignings

She recalled how early in her career she’d pick an area of the state and cold call bookstores to schedule events. Her husband, Tom, would help load the car with kids and boxes of novels and they’d set out on a weekend road trip to sell books.  Her private dream was to make the New York Times Bestseller List some day. Meeting as many librarians and bookstore owners and people as she could, she never lost sight of her dreams. Many times these connections paid off resulting in invitations to speak at fundraisers, book clubs, and writer’s groups.  I’ve learned from Jodi that you can never have too many people in your network because you never know where those connections might lead. She advised me early on to start a contact list of these people and include them in every mailing.

Setting Goals

Jodi mentioned that her current goal is to write 25-30 pages a week. My jaw dropped. That’s about 7500 words! Every week! I’ve been friends with this lady for some time and I know her plate is loaded with grandkids, guiding college students as Writer-In-Residence, co-chairing a week long summer writing academy and newly elected RWA Board member.  She’s no different than the rest of us, except she’s got 39 novels under her belt.

It’s like one of her long time critique partners stated. DeWanna Pace observed that Jodi Thomas “had the same 24 hours as everyone else does who sets out on the writer’s journey and, yes, life got in the way many times. But she always found a way to shift her strategy and made it all work in the end. She never missed an opportunity to learn more, write more, network more, to help other writers, and meet each goal she set for herself.”

The Truth about Selling Books

Selling books is an endless marathon. Don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise. A newly published author shared her excitement and told me that her book is with a smaller house so she’ll have to do all of the marketing herself. I’m happy for her. Every publishing credit is thrilling, but the ‘who’ in promotion is a misguided belief.

Bestselling authors do their own marketing too. It never ends. The writing, the advertising, the blogging, the speaking, the selling; successful authors do it all. This business is not for the faint of heart. It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do.

Selling More Books

I stayed after Jodi’s event to help clean up. We carefully wrapped the glorious RITA’s in bubble wrap and packed away mementos symbolizing a writing career that began with the first sale in 1988. We carried boxes of leftover books, pens, bags, and bookmarks to Jodi’s car. Before driving off, she asked me for the Fan Club poster I’d made, a 10-year picture collage of memories. She had a bookstore event the next day and thought it would look good next to her autographing table. I watched this amazing author, teacher, and a dear friend of some twenty years drive away. I suddenly realized that there hasn’t been a time that I’ve known her when her car wasn’t filled with boxes. She’s living the dream. Still selling. Still hauling books.

Go to to learn more about Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of contemporary and historical novels.

Happy book selling Wordsmith Six friends!


Making Connections

Making Connections

By Natalie Bright

The business side of publishing and promoting your work is not much different than any other industry. Networking with business colleagues and potential clients has been going on for centuries, whether it be in the local pub or the downtown martini bar.

For writers social media has changed the dynamics of how we can publicize our stories to readers. Just like through the centuries, building a viable network takes time. Consider marketing and promotion as a marathon. In addition to sitting behind your computer, think about putting yourself out there as well.

Connections that Last

Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas, has always maintained a strong local fan base during her 25 year career. Her local autographings in the Texas Panhandle are well attended, with long lines of eager fans. I met a librarian at one of these events who remembers Jodi speaking to their small club over ten years ago. Many years later she happened to be browsing through a bookstore and saw a display with books by Jodi Thomas. Now retired and with plenty of time to read, she bought a copy of every book and has been a  loyal fan ever since. She says, “Even though we were a small group and Jodi Thomas was a New York Times Bestselling author, it was like we were her best friends. She was so gracious and kind, and gave a very professional and interesting talk.” It’s that one to one relationship with her fans that Jodi excels at, and it’s served her well through the years.

That lady’s enthusiasm got me to thinking about making connections that last. Sometimes we may not ever realize the connections we’ve made or the people we’ll meet, and how it might lead to something else many years down the road.

Building Bridges by Volunteering

I’ve volunteered at our local museum for close to 20 years as a docent. I joined the museum auxiliary when I was in college, even before I had kids, because I love history. Through my participation, I’ve talked to countless numbers of kids and teachers and parents while conducting school tours. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the world while guiding them through the exhibits and talking about the Texas Panhandle. After I became an author, and my articles began appearing in local publications, those same teachers have invited me to speak in their classrooms. I think these connections have served me well. 

It’s A Book Fair!

I also enjoy participating in book events. Table fees and travel expense can be shared with other authors. One such event was a first ever library sponsored community book fair resulting in only one person coming to my talk.  I also sold one book. The day wasn’t a waste however, because I met countless teachers, school librarians, interesting book lovers, and one lady who is in the process of opening a bookstore. From that one event, I’ve already received two speaking invitations.

So get yourself out there and smile. You just never know where those simple connections might lead down the road.