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    July 10, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Musts for an Author Website

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    2013amanda2Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Websites…every author should have one. They are your central hub; your validation point. They are what will tell the world that you’re up and running and serious about this writing thing and that you aren’t going anywhere soon. All because you have a website.

    It may seem silly, but that’s how we view these online spaces. They have a way of making everything OFFICIAL in a way that Facebook and Twitter and Google+ can’t. Weird, yes. But it’s true. I mean how many times have you googled a band, a company, a service provider and winced at the fact that while they may have a million Yelp recommendations or a slew of Facebook follows, they don’t have a site?

    There’s something about a website…it’s like an online stamp of approval. And so yes, every author should have one. In the past I’ve talked about the components of a website, and I also touch on this in my book, but I wanted to provide a down and dirty list of 5 MUSTS FOR AN AUTHOR WEBSITE.

    My hope is that you’ll spend the weekend adjusting your site to hit on each of these five things.

    1. LINKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA. Take a look at your site’s home page. Is there a clear way for visitors to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? Do you have those buttons clearly displayed? This is important, because you don’t know how your fans will want to interact with you. When they show up to your site, it’s an opportunity to
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    November 19, 2012

    Career Planning in the Wild, Wild West

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    While on an agent’s panel at ACFW in September, I sat next to Lee Hough, one of the smartest and hardest working agents in the business. While we all fielded the typical questions we get as panelists, someone asked a question about the current state of affairs in publishing, and how agents are faring.

     I tend to take a positive, entrepreneurial, and philosophical approach when answering questions about the challenges of publishing.

    Lee, however, hit the mark when he said “It’s like the wild, wild west out there right now.” His summation about the new landscape of publishing has really stuck with me. In fact, it’s a new constant on the landscape of my daily work life these days — right alongside MacGregor Literary’s long-standing company philosophy that “good is always better than fast.”

    As positive as I try to remain, I’ll admit, it’s felt exceptionally difficult to place books and find homes for authors these past few months. Even with the successes I’ve enjoyed this year in spite of it all, it feels like I’m on more uneven ground than ever. And I know agents aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

    Marketers are constantly scrambling to orient themselves to what it takes to get readers to buy in a noisy online environment. Sales teams are faced with succeeding in spite of the literal crumbling of their brick & mortar customer base. Publicists are being asked to do more with less. Editors are overworked. Authors are no longer just invited by publishers to help market their books, but are expected to do so. In fact more and more, the strength of an author’s proposal is weighed as much for the type and number of readers they bring to the table as it is for the quality of their writing. Maybe more.

    Top that off with the consideration that authors are not only competing with other authors for

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    November 8, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Marketing in Your Home Town

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    Alright. Confession time. Before I could write this post I had to go watch “Jenny From the Block” music video by Jennifer Lopez. Because whenever I think about marketing locally, that song starts playing over and over in my head.

    But I’ll spare you from having to watch it, unless you really want to (WORTH IT), as I try to collect my thoughts and be eloquent and practical without busting into rhyme.

    J-Lo’s song is about keeping it real. Not letting fame and fortune change the fact that she came from humble beginnings. Being the same person now (despite the rocks that she got) that she was then.

    But I think in a backwards way, that theme could also be applied to book marketing. The Internet, though flashy and trendy and popular, shouldn’t give us license to live a double life. In other words, it’s so easy to go online and be a strong marketer, and then turn it all completely off the moment we step away from Facebook. It’s like we go from “Famous Author” to “Car Pool Driver” or “PTA Member” or “The Person Who Always Brings Cookies to Work” or other lackluster personas that follow us in our day-to-day lives. When in fact, being an author pursuing the dream is actually quite extraordinary.

    So let’s pretend that I’m an author with a book.

    I live in a city of 250,000. While I’m online, trying frantically to find people who enjoy reading, there are about a dozen library branches in my city. Not only that, but there are at least a dozen bookstores. Furthermore, my contact with the city goes beyond those typical venues.

    • I
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    November 1, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Social Media Critiques, Part 6

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    Amanda Luedeke is a zombie literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform and eating brains. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her life as both an agent and a zombie.

    A few weeks ago, I offered free social media critiques to those who replied before the 14th. You see, social media is a specialty of mine. Before becoming an agent, I worked for some years as a social media marketer at a marketing agency outside of Chicago. I worked with clients such as Vera Bradley, Peg Perego, Benjamin Moore and more. A somewhat longer description of what I did can be found in the first critique post.

    1) Memoir of a Mermaid is a site by Adrianna Stepiano

    • Very visually appealing. I’m wondering, though, about how it appears you have two banners/mastheads. I’d get rid of the stuff at the top and just add “A Young Adult Fiction Series by…” to the main one.
    • It doesn’t seem your blog content is connecting with readers. This may be because it’s focused on your writing journey rather than reader interests. Brainstorm ways that you could provide content that interests readers but also keeps the focus on the YA genre, storytelling, myths, folklore, etc.
    • I don’t see a picture of you anywhere or anything that ties this to a real person. If you want that strong connection with readers, you’re going to have to put yourself out there a bit more.

    RECOMMENDATIONS: You do a lot of things right, but I think the main thing lacking is a clear goal. This doesn’t strike me as strictly a sales-oriented site, and yet at the same time, there’s not much of a reason for readers to come  back once they’ve purchased the book. Answer these questions: Why did I build this site? What do I

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    January 19, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Success with Writing Articles

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    Amanda 2 CropNOTE: Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    We’re on week three of tackling the Platform Monster. Week one we talked about numbers as in how big an author platform should be, and week two we took the first step toward achieving those numbers by acknowledging that growing a platform should be like playing with dominos. You move forward, tile by tile, focusing on one thing at a time until the big payoff when everything falls into place and you have your platform.

    So now let’s dig deeper. Each week, we’ll take a look at one of those platform components (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Speaking) and I’ll give insight into how to do them right and reap the biggest reward.

    This week, we’re talking about WRITING ARTICLES.

    I chose this one to start us off, because aside from blogging, it comes more naturally to most writers than, say, YouTube vlogging and public speaking. It also is one of the easiest ways to ensure your name gets in front of lots and lots of people.

    Here’s my thinking…you Tweet something or write a blog post or throw something up onto the Internet, and unless you happen to be talking about a trending or searchable topic, it only gets read by your immediate audience. But with articles (especially print articles), your words will be read by a majority of that publication’s readership. And 99.9% of those readers are people that you haven’t met before. So while pitching articles and columns may be a bit outdated, it’s one of the best ways to get your words in front of NEW readers.

    So how do you see success with articles? Here’s what I recommend:

    1.      Take a look at what you write and identify the topics you specialize

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    January 19, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Success with Writing Articles

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    Amanda 2 CropNOTE: Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    We’re on week three of tackling the Platform Monster. Week one we talked about numbers as in how big an author platform should be, and week two we took the first step toward achieving those numbers by acknowledging that growing a platform should be like playing with dominos. You move forward, tile by tile, focusing on one thing at a time until the big payoff when everything falls into place and you have your platform.

    So now let’s dig deeper. Each week, we’ll take a look at one of those platform components (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Speaking) and I’ll give insight into how to do them right and reap the biggest reward.

    This week, we’re talking about WRITING ARTICLES.

    I chose this one to start us off, because aside from blogging, it comes more naturally to most writers than, say, YouTube vlogging and public speaking. It also is one of the easiest ways to ensure your name gets in front of lots and lots of people.

    Here’s my thinking…you Tweet something or write a blog post or throw something up onto the Internet, and unless you happen to be talking about a trending or searchable topic, it only gets read by your immediate audience. But with articles (especially print articles), your words will be read by a majority of that publication’s readership. And 99.9% of those readers are people that you haven’t met before. So while pitching articles and columns may be a bit outdated, it’s one of the best ways to get your words in front of NEW readers.

    So how do you see success with articles? Here’s what I recommend:

    1.      Take a look at what you write and identify the topics you specialize

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: Success with Writing Articles"
  • brick green no smile b:w

    January 12, 2012

    Thursday with Amanda: Growing a Platform Is Like Dominos

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    Amanda 2 CropNOTE: Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    So now you know what to shoot for in terms of numbers (if you missed it, last Thursday we talked about how big an author platform should be). But as many of you pointed out, those numbers seem impossible. The time and effort required to grow such a following had some of you envisioning yourself with an impressive platform sometime in the year 2030. While others flat out admitted that they didn’t have a single sales bone in their body. You’re artists, after all. And artists don’t always make the most sociable, friendly, outgoing, spin doctoring bunch.

    So what’s the secret? How can these numbers be achieved?

    Let me explain it like this…most authors, when embarking on a quest to tackle the platform demon, treat it like spaghetti. They throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. They start a Facebook group, a Twitter account, a blog, a website, a Goodreads account, a newsletter and on and on and on until they feel they have all of the possible platform-building areas covered.

    And then they’re surprised when nothing happens. When their Facebook group hovers around 50 followers—most of which are personal or family friends. When their Twitter account has more spam followers than real followers and their website stats don’t climb above 30 visits a day. They’re surprised by this, because they’re doing everything they’re supposed to do and nothing is working. And more than anything, they’re exhausted. They’ve spread themselves so thin, they can barely keep track of what was said where. At this point, most give up. They tried their best, and it didn’t work.

    But platform is nothing like spaghetti. It’s more like a game of dominos (as in the game in

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  • brick green no smile b:w

    January 12, 2012

    Thursday with Amanda: Growing a Platform Is Like Dominos

    by

    Amanda 2 CropNOTE: Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    So now you know what to shoot for in terms of numbers (if you missed it, last Thursday we talked about how big an author platform should be). But as many of you pointed out, those numbers seem impossible. The time and effort required to grow such a following had some of you envisioning yourself with an impressive platform sometime in the year 2030. While others flat out admitted that they didn’t have a single sales bone in their body. You’re artists, after all. And artists don’t always make the most sociable, friendly, outgoing, spin doctoring bunch.

    So what’s the secret? How can these numbers be achieved?

    Let me explain it like this…most authors, when embarking on a quest to tackle the platform demon, treat it like spaghetti. They throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. They start a Facebook group, a Twitter account, a blog, a website, a Goodreads account, a newsletter and on and on and on until they feel they have all of the possible platform-building areas covered.

    And then they’re surprised when nothing happens. When their Facebook group hovers around 50 followers—most of which are personal or family friends. When their Twitter account has more spam followers than real followers and their website stats don’t climb above 30 visits a day. They’re surprised by this, because they’re doing everything they’re supposed to do and nothing is working. And more than anything, they’re exhausted. They’ve spread themselves so thin, they can barely keep track of what was said where. At this point, most give up. They tried their best, and it didn’t work.

    But platform is nothing like spaghetti. It’s more like a game of dominos (as in the game in

    Continue Reading "Thursday with Amanda: Growing a Platform Is Like Dominos"
  • brick green no smile b:w

    January 5, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How Big Should a Writer's Platform Be?

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    NOTE: Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    You've heard it before…if you really want to impress an agent, make sure you have three things: a great idea, supported by great writing and a great platform.

    But let's be honest, either you're born with a knack for words or you're not.

    Either a great idea drops into your head one day, or it doesn't.

    But platform…platform doesn't happen by chance. Platform is all about hard work.

    I think it's funny that we dedicate entire conferences and workshops and critique groups to the very components that we have the least control over (You can't make great writers out of bad writers, and no classic American novels were written by following a novel-writing template), while the the third component–the one that really can be taught into existence–gets ignored.

    This really bugs me, because we've turned platform into this mysterious entity that's somehow more difficult to achieve than writing a best seller. Somewhere along the line, we've decided using social media is more nebulous than developing a plot destined for the silver screen and that growing a readership as an unpublished author is more far-fetched than an agent offering on-the-spot representation.

    How we became so dillussional is lost on me, but I'd like to begin to set things straight and pull platform out of the doghouse it's been sitting in for so long.

    So first things first, what do impressive social media stats look like? (Hold on, it's going to be a bumpy ride…)

    The cold, hard truth is that solid author platforms come in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

    Let’s get more specific…

    If you have a website or blog, your monthly unique visitor count should be at least 30,000

    If you have a

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