Monday, September 28, 2015

Build Your Brand By Teaching Others

photo by enterlinedesign via Dollar Photo Club

Two years ago I published a book not knowing anything about promotion, marketing, branding, or platform. Now I teach aspiring authors how to independently publish their own books. I let all of the knowledge I've gained over the last two years and more pour out of me, and provide them with the tools they need to get started on their own journeys. 

Establishing yourself as a writer can take many different avenues. My approach is two-pronged. Like most indie authors I have a consistent social media presence and a website and blog, all updated frequently. I'm active in online groups. I have an email list and a newsletter. But reaching out to readers and building a brand online is just one facet of my author life. Another is to build a reputation as an author within my own community. One way I do this is through teaching. This helps establish my credibility as an author, as someone who knows what she's doing, and as a leader. 

It all started when my local library invited me to teach a 90-minute seminar on self-publishing. I developed a presentation with Power Point called Adventures in Publishing: How to Independently Publish Your Own Book. Twelve people showed up. They asked lots of questions and stayed to the end. They wrote wonderful reviews. This gave me confidence to expand my program. 
I added additional content and graphics and beefed it up to two hours. I knew once I had a polished program I could present it to new audiences again and again and my time and efforts would pay off. Next I spoke to the people in the continuing education department at the community college where I work and asked them to add my class to their course catalog. They quickly agreed. I also hit up the employee education department and they too added me to their schedule, although this class was a watered down one-hour version. Most of these classes were well attended and well received, but a few had to be cancelled due to low enrollment. 

I continued to refine and improve my presentation, and sought new venues to present my program. I reached out to a private college thirty minutes from home and proposed the course to their continuing education department. Based on my experiences at the community college they readily agreed. I am now teaching several classes at each college per semester.

The program evolved once more after many attendees  wrote on their evaluation forms that the program was too short; they wanted more. I expanded the class to two two-hour sessions called Write Release Retail: How to Become an Indie Author. The first session is on writing a book and preparing it for publication; the second focuses on marketing and promotion. 

One of the perks of these presentations is the opportunity to sell books, not by the truckload, but one at a time, hand to hand. It's a soft sell but invariably someone asks to buy a book and others follow. They are always front and center in my display and serve as the textbook for my program. 

And I get paid for talking to aspiring authors about publishing their work. The community college gives me an hourly rate and I split the fees with the private college 50/50. I'm not getting rich, but it's one more example of my credibility. 

I love teaching. It's one way I build my reputation as an author on a local level. It gives me confidence to continue with this endeavor, even on those days when I wonder "Why am I doing this? Should I be doing this?" Self-publishing is the most difficult thing I've ever done, but my students inspire me and renew my faith in my own abilities. 

To see my current class schedule please visit this page. 

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