By Margo McKenzie
The term literary is most often associated with novel writing, poetry, drama and the like. Names such as Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Langston Hughes come to mind. On the topic of entrepreneurship, one thinks of business plans, marketing, capital, profits, and losses. Very rarely do we see these two topics combined. Tyora Moody, however, changes that phenomenon. She smoothly integrates the two topics in this short booklet of 135 pages on the business of being a writer and “Building an Online Presence for Authors.
In the literary past, agents and publishing companies represented the vast majority of published writers. Publishing companies edited, branded, distributed, and marketed authors’ books and paid them a percentage of the proceeds from sales. If an author is fortunate enough to enter a contract with a publishing company today, they pretty much perform the same roles for the author. With the advent of the digital era, the entire writing and publishing game has been democratized. All writers with ambition and perseverance can get their work published without the assistance of a publishing company. The Literary Entrepreneur’s Toolkit by Tyora Moody provides an author with all the tools needed to get noticed online. So if you’re looking for a gift for someone’s Christmas stocking, if you want to plant a seed into a writer’s life and ministry, Moody’s book is the gift that keeps on giving. This is a book that should be on every writer’s bookcase.
In ten solid chapters, Moody covers just about every nook and cranny of digital marketing. She shares the knowledge she has gathered after over a decade of experience with “on-line publicity.” Early in her book she offers the following advice: “Think like a reader.” In the writing and marketing of their book, authors must keep the audience in mind.
The book is divided into two parts. Part I answers the question: “Where do I start with building my online presence?” and Part II answers the question: “How do I build and manage my online presence?”
The first section is divided into four chapters, covering building a brand, a website, and a following. In the first chapter on branding, Moody lists fifteen authors--most writers would know at least five of them. This list provides a motivation like no other because readers who purchase her book are seeking just a modicum of the name recognition that those famous authors have achieved. Inspired readers will quickly read through the pages, looking for the quick answers to what they must do to get there. As they read, they will realize that the answers may be quick, and the reading may be easy, but the work is hard. Authors must not only produce their best writing, but if they want an online presence, they have to constantly be on the look-out for opportunities to promote themselves. This first chapter takes the reader out of their ivory tower of literary arts and brings them into the harsh reality of persuasive presentation.
Terms such as blogposts, workshops, seminars, and conferences shake authors from the literary tower and move them into the world of the business of writing.
Yes, you need a website, a domain name, and a host, and Moody carefully delineates the steps writers and others must take in order to acquire them. She goes so far as to provide a list of considerations to insure the website is professional in user experience and efficiency, whether on a computer or a phone. If a reader is not sure what to include on a website, Moody explains five critical pages, and she provides pointers to remember when developing each one.
Moody establishes that she is writing for authors new to the online world, and advises authors to understand these five components of a web page and what they each contain: home page, media kit, book page, calendar of events, and contact page. Moody relies on print to explain these components to the reader. However, this is the section when a reader would benefit from a graphic image such as an effective landing page. A guided tour of her own website would have been beneficial, displaying her own examples of each component she discusses.
To move authors even deeper into the waters of online marketing, she discusses additional topics literary entrepreneurs must master: blogging, capturing readers, and connecting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Tumblr. Just like the living needs oxygen, a writer needs social media to survive: “The strongest way to build your platform is utilizing these free tools.” The key is to find two or three that best meet the needs of your audience.
Moody must have realized that after chapter three, readers would be overwhelmed by the plethora of online building necessary. In chapter four, she attempts to relieve the anxiety with some basics about “How to Build an Online Audience.” This chapter is probably the meatiest chapter in the book. Authors generate an audience by blogging, but the main takeaway is that building an audience requires consistency and planning. Readers will be thankful for the sample Monday-Friday topical calendar she provides. Rather than talking about a calendar, she provides one. She also provides a list of social media management tools to add to a writer’s blog.
This segment reviews the basics of blogging and mentions four tools for bloggers. If there is one weakness in this chapter, it is the limited platform options she provides. In reality, there are over ten free sites, but she makes no mention of these or even suggests they exist. To her credit, however, she does provide a list of possible blogging topics such as: do your characters reflect real life issues? If so, then write about those topics. Is your novel reflective of historical, medical or scientific significance? If so, these become topics for blogs. I appreciate the way Moody personalizes the book by including a list of her favorite blogs.
Everyone has heard about Twitter, but Moody makes her readers aware of key considerations and cautions readers to be selective about whom they follow. Even for Twitter, “It’s about quality, not quantity.” She explains by saying that ultimately she will take a look at what some people are tweating, and “If they are not talking about anything I want to see on my timeline, I will choose not to follow.”
Did you know that hashtag is in the Twitter family? If a reader is wondering about hashtag, she clarifies the issue; and if readers wonder whether they have any ideas worth tweating about, she clears that up, too. She covers Twitter in depth and recommends specific literary entrepreneurs to follow.
If you’re not overwhelmed yet, she then provides valuable information about creating an active community on Facebook. She begins this chapter discussing, Edgerank, an algorithm that Facebook administrators use to decide what gets posted on a user’s timeline. Terms like affinity, weight, and time decay are clearly explained. Then she gets down to the basics of profile page, business page, group page, and event page.
The critical section, “What should I post on Facebook," might leave a reader perplexed if she is looking for advice about appropriate topics for their Facebook posts. She does explain how to post consistently using campaign websites, which will post content automatically and the value of using visual posts such as an images, videos, or audios.
If an author still can find any followers, Moody enters into the more professional realm of social media with her discussion of LinkedIn and Google+. These two websites contain elevated discussions about industry trends, job searches, and business outlook.
Winding down, Moody then discusses a few reader-specific websites, listing Goodreads.com as the “largest social network for book lovers.” There is also Wattpad and Amazon Author Central. (View Moody’s profile there.)
Moody nears the end of her book with a synopsis of a few visual marketing sites such as Youtube, Vine, Instagram, podcasting, and Pinterest. She also mentions websites she uses to share documents such as Scribd and Docstoc.com.
The final segment takes the form of a workbook. Moody walks readers through the critical five steps readers can follow to establish a business plan for an online presence because planning is critical. Tyora Moody must know, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Reading about marketing and doing it are distinctly different. Planning for success is the final step.
Her final two gifts in this book are two lists, which will assist in the planning: Quick Links for every literary entrepreneur and a reading list containing podcasts and books.
Throughout her book, Moody explains extensively what literary entrepreneurs can do to promote themselves. By purchasing this book for a friend or loved one at Christmas, you propel that writer to greater heights of achievement.
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