Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Meet Sunny Frazier: Acquisitions Editor and Author


I am so excited for you all to meet Sunny Frazier. I first met Sunny through a post she wrote about the necessity of building a successful platform on She Writes. We all hear about building a platform, but sometimes we wonder, really, how necessary is it to the writing career?  

Oak Tree Press
Sunny is both a writer and an acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press. Amazingly, when I asked Sunny a few questions, she personally responded to me, inviting me to be a part of her "posse" where she helps writers discover the importance and means for developing an effective platform. Needless to say, I jumped right on that offer. 

I've read a lot lately, from different professionals in the industry, about the pros and cons of platforms, especially blogs. I asked Sunny to share the same advice I read on She Writes with readers here. 

Thanks, Sunny, for your willingness to be here today, and offer your extensive experience.

ARE YOU EVEN READY FOR A WRITING CAREER?

The buzz word in the writing industry is “platform.” As an acquisitions editor for a mid-sized publishing house, I'm forced to answer queries with the question: “Where is your platform?” Most replies indicate that authors feel they don't need a platform until they have a book published. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A platform is exactly that. It's the foundation on which an author builds his/her career. Writing a book is just one part of the process. Platform building should start the moment a person decides to write a novel.

If you haven't got a book out yet, what are you suppose to promote? Your name. Name recognition is the first step in getting a fan base. To get your name circulating, you have to get involved with social media. Face Book, website, blogs, twitter (if you like that sort of thing). Keep it professional. Network with authors just a bit ahead of you in their careers. Use them as mentors; they will be your strongest supporters. In your blog comments, inject a bit of personality and something about what you're working on. Check out others who comment and contact them personally to comment on their comment. Build a relationship, one person at a time. Face Book “friend” them. Keep a list of these contacts as potential fans.

Find sites that will enhance your understanding of the profession. Many blogs list their favorite sites. Investigate them. Find the ones you like and subscribe. Info will come flowing into your mailbox.

Be prepared to market. Embrace it. Too many authors are preconditioned to act like it's a necessary evil. It doesn't have to be expensive, just creative. I love the challenge of luring people to my books.

Get a personality. You can be anyone online. If you come off as dull or pedantic, readers will assume your books are boring. Have opinions, use humor, sparkle. Make others curious about you. Be the blogger everyone wants on their website.

Offer something of value. Don't just promote yourself and your books. Be a teacher. Promote others. By giving away the spotlight, your own image will glow. I did this by pulling together the best articles to fast-track careers and created a group called “The Posse.” I guaranteed to take 5 years off their career path, and it worked. There was no extra work for me since I monitor many sites. I shared. Everyone can see it at my website under Posse Posts. The URL's are there on a variety of subjects every writer needs to know.  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

Be an innovator. Spot opportunity. Don't follow the herd, lead it. Give a new twist to stale marketing techniques. I created The Friday Round-Up over at the Oak Tree Press blog. The column displays what our authors have done for promotion in one week. It gives them recognition for their efforts and inspires the rest of our authors. For the rest of you, sites of reviewers, interviewers and blogs are there for the taking. Don't reinvent the wheel; take what's freely offered.

This is how you grow a platform. Become desirable to publishers. By the time your book hits the shelves, you have fans, peers and supporters ready to read that novel.         


Sunny Frazier is a Navy veteran and a former newspaper reporter until the publication folded. She joined the Fresno County Sheriff's Dept. and worked as a confidential secretary for an undercover narcotics team. After 17 years in law enforcement, she turned her energies to writing the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries. Based in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the novels are inspired by real cases and 40 years of casting horoscopes.

Frazier is also acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press.
            http://www.sunnyfrazier.com   

82 comments:

  1. Great article, Sunny! I was actually very glad to see that I incorporate much of this into my routine already. I don't have a published book yet, but joined Twitter to begin putting my name out there. I do everything you instructed. YAY! Feels good to have confirmation that I'm on the right track.

    Thanks for such a well-described yet simple approach to platform-building. I'll definitely be checking out OTP, so look for my mug over there! I'm the cute guy in the blue shirt. :o)

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    1. You beat me to the punch. I was going to suggest you submit the finished novel to me if it's in one of our genres. Oak Tree is an all-female house, so cute guys are welcomed!

      (And, see how easily charm works?)

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  2. That's why my publisher told me to get my butt online. Took me a while to find my groove and my style, but I'm comfortable with my 'platform' now. And I did look to others for help. A lot!

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    1. A great platform built, too, Alex!

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    2. I would be very surprised if any publisher doesn't insist on a platform. It's the only way to tell if you are serious about your career. We can't throw money away on people who just want the thrill of seeing their name on the cover. And, as a writer, I would question why my publishing house ignores this aspect. How much promotion are THEY planning to do on my behalf???

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  3. Love that! I totally love blogging and would probably do it even if I never get published, but it's nice to know it means something for that "someday" anyway.

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    1. When blogging entered our world, too many people jumped the gun and decided to blog without realizing the time, energy and brain cells it would take to keep a blog going. Some dropped out of sight right away, others just wrote to fill space. Do we really have time, in our busy lives, to spend much of it reading blogs? That's why you have to be compelling and give people a reason to follow you. Being bratty has always worked for me.

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  4. Good information! I followed all the links too (one took me to a Christian site...didn't mind, but not sure if that's the link you wanted). So much learned this morning, my brain feels fuller.

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    1. Elizabeth, was this within the post here today or one on Sunny's site? I double-checked mine...? Thanks Julie

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    2. And so much more to keep your brain full. Want to be in my Posse?

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  5. Jules,

    Great Post. This is just one more example of why you are the best!

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    1. Julie is pretty terrific, right? Plus, she told me her subscribers were incredible. I can see she's right. You people support her.

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  6. This is excellent information. Thank you for sharing. I'll take a look at those sites.

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    1. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Seriously. I'm one of those people who makes time.

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  7. I couldn't agree with this post more. I've asked this among writers I met in person, and sometimes, someone will say they don't need a platform because they're "just that awesome." I never question one's awesomeness, but there are varying degrees of perspective, and they can all work or not work at all - it's all in how you present yourself. :)

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    1. Uh, nobody is "that awesome." And, they are lying. If they are published and selling, then they have some sort of platform in place to reach fans. If they aren't published, they have a rude awakening ahead.

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  8. It's great to meet Sunny! I can see how being a newspaper reporter can help being a writer. I tried being a freelance photographer back in the day for a local newspaper but it never panned out.

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    1. Hey Stephen! I was the only female photojournalist in the San Joaquin Valley in the late '70's. Kodak came knocking on my darkroom door, wanted to show me off. But, the paper paid me less than the summer intern; they actually said I should have a man supporting me. Killed my love of journalism. However, I believe strongly in deadlines and I won lots of short story contests because nobody can condense like a newspaper reporter. My only complaint is that my writing is perhaps TOO tight. Hard to get a word count longer than 65,000.

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  9. Where it is difficult to promote yourself, consider hiring a publicist. Thank you.

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    1. They can be expensive and if you're with an independent house, you aren't going to profit enough to give it away to a person who can do what you can easily do yourself. Plus, you lose the personal touch. I think the personal touch is critical to my marketing. And besides, I'm nosy enough to want to know everything about my fans!

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  10. Ah, I'm in the marketing trenches now. It's fun but SUPER time consuming :) Great post! I'm so glad i found your blog :) Followed you here from J.A.'s place :)

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    1. Learn to recycle, let nothing go to waste. This piece? It will show up on 10 other sites I belong to, including She Writes. Not right away; I post date and it will probably show up in 2015 and read by a whole new group. I keep email groups and send link info out if it applies. This blog? It goes to the Posse and writing friends. Not my reading fans. Plus, it will be mentioned on the Friday Round-Up. How long does it take me to reach over 300 people? About 15 minutes. Then I'm done for the day.

      Learn the tricks to expedite. And then, keep improving on them.

      Delete
  11. This is a great post with loads of useful info. I think we have to start building a 'platform' ready for the day we have something published! (crosses fingers). But more importantly through my blog I have learnt so much and met such great people who understand my need to write. I don't know what I'd do without my little blog now!

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    1. Every one of those readers is a potential fan. Keep track of them and their career efforts. We all need to support each other.

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  12. Great advice. I gotta get some of that personality you're talking about! And all that other stuff too :) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Don't be shy. Every writer has a bit of a showman in them. If we didn't, how could we come up with all of our characters??? Think of yourself as a "character" and create the image you want people to see. At some point, you're going to be asked to stand up in public and talk or read. No time to be shy then!

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  13. I think a platform is something you always be working on. Such great advice!

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    1. You're absolutely right. It helps your publisher as well. Nobody thinks of the poor publisher in all of this. We cross our fingers and hope we've picked the right authors who will plunge into the fray with us! Tough business. We all have to work together to make our mark.

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  14. Julie and Sunny, thanks. Hopping over to check out some of those promo/marketing ideas.

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    1. Again, the offer to join the Posse is extended. Let me know.

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  15. For those just starting out, building a platform can be a daunting experience. But, if you're not yet published and have a work in progress, it's a good time to start small and gradually build. You don't have to be an expert immediately, but over time the reputation and credibility will come to those who persist!

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    1. Terry didn't mention this, but he writes for the Examiner online. That's one of the reasons I picked up his novel out of the query pile. He made it a point to help promote authors of our house. Now his novel, LICENSE TO LIE, is an Oak Tree title. He impressed us early on.

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  16. Every writer needs a platform - what they stand for and who they are. It can be build around something simple, too. I've built on "Spunk on a Stick" for seven years now.

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    1. I have to check out your platform. I love catchy titles. I guess I'm "Brat on a Rant."

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  17. Develop that personality. I like it. have opinions, fuel some discussion. Get people talking.

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    1. Stephen, you play with our heads too much. Every interview, I don't know whether to believe your outlandish remarks or not. But, they always make me laugh. That's personality with a plus!

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    1. I learned from the best, Marilyn. Now, if I could only behave as well as you. . . .

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  19. Wow, Sunny, thanks for all the well-thought advice! Thank you for the introduction, Julie!

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    1. I believe in telling it like it is, Candilynn (love your name, btw). I'm over these blogs that promise to give out the secrets then give generic advice. Don't tease me if you aren't going to deliver! I think I feel a blog coming on--THE GREAT BAIT AND SWITCH.

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  20. Hi all --so glad the information is helpful. Sunny is a wealth of knowledge and even better is willing to share her experience and insights from both sides of the fence.

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    1. I'm glad you pointed that out, Julie. I would hate to think any of these folks would find me unreachable or too busy to correspond. There are so many questions out there and sometimes no one to ask. I was lucky in that I had mentors early on who took time to bring me into the fold. Now it's time to pay it forward.

      You're doing exactly that with your blog. Kudos!

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  21. Great advice. The hard part is the time it takes to "promote" yourself, but it's better to start when you still have the time, before you're published.

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    1. So true! At that point, life it crazy and if you aren't prepared, many opportunities pass you by. Learning to utilize promotion early on saves time later. With a platform in place, you only have to continue to build on it.

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  22. Great post! I'm so glad one of my CPs is a marketing grad. I wouldn't have had a clue about all this without her guidance.

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    1. You are lucky. While book marketing is slightly different than marketing other products, it pays to learn. I even study commercials now and see how they captured my interest or got me to buy a product. Or, why they turned me off (are you listening, Carl's Jr?). Watch Mad Men. Think like they do, but without the cigarettes, cynicism, chauvinism and booze.

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  23. Well said, Sunny! :) And I completely agree.

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    1. Thanks! I get way too many people who don't want to hear it.

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  24. My platform began slowly then exploded!!!!! Now it has taken on a mind of its own. My platform promotes my platform. :-)
    Epic advice Sunny.

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    1. Chris, your enthusiasm for marketing makes you a whiz kid at Oak Tree. Can't wait to get your book, Gray Ghost, on the shelves.

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  25. Excellent piece, Sunny, and I can vouch for your recap of OTP policies, especially the 'cute guy' one...(jk!)

    Billie Johnson
    Oak Tree Press

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    1. Ah, gracious publisher, we must let the folks know we aren't just publishing cozies. Bring on the male readers! Plus, a bit of eye candy in the ranks never hurt sales (how's that for being chauvinistic?).

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  26. I've learned so much about platform and blogging from you, Sunny. Being part of the Posse has been valuable network to me and I appreciate being a part of it. Through your encouragement I started "Paula's Coppers" (www.paulapetty.com/paulas-coppers) and have started building my platform from there. My mystery will be finished soon, and I am looking forward to not having to wonder what to do to spread the word. I'll have a place to start getting the word out while I continue building on to the platform. Thanks, Sunny, for your help and for this post. Great advice.

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    1. We love Paula's Coppers and that's a very good example of taking an idea (blogging) and giving it a real twist. I started my platform with "Coming Attractions," which blurbed books with wit and sass. My trick was to contact the authors, who were delighted with the free publicity. I created "The Murder Circle" which evolved into The Posse.

      Having fun titles for the everything you do is also a marketing tool. Forgot to mention it. I guess that comes under "branding."

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  27. I can attest to the power of networking. All 3 of my books were published because I had an online relationship with the acquisition editors before I queried them. (Sound familiar, Sunny?)

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    1. Yes, you charmed and intrigued me. You treated me as a "real" person and kept up the connection. So stoked to have helped put "Unleavened Dead" in print. The cover continues to make me grin.

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  28. Excellent advice! And really, there are so many benefits to having a platform in this day and age.

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    1. You're right! Plus, with social media, it's so simple to reach vast numbers of readers. Does anyone want the days of sending out postcards, trying to get interviewed by newspapers and finding bookstores to do signings (do the last two even exist anymore?). When people complain of the effort involved, I just shake my head. DON'T bring back the "good ol' days!"

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  29. Sunny, thank you! I've printed several articles regarding book marketing and decided to put together a resource guide, I like to have things in front of me. I'll re-activate my fb page immediately.

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    1. Smart move. I'd like to see that page when you have it up. Friend me.

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  30. Sunny - I write westerns, so I call the platform my "Brand." As in - Always Ride for the Brand.

    I think it's important that your brand (platform) make you unique. How do you stand out from others working in the same genre?

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    1. I love the word "brand." You know I'm former Fresno Sheriff's Dept, so the Western lingo works for me!

      One way to stand out is something you just pointed out: use colorful labels. The Posse, The Murder Circle, these are just titles for groups that have been out there before. Remember when I sent out Posse badges? Stuff like that makes it fun. I'm all about fun. People remember quirkiness as long as it's not weird. To me, that makes an author memorable.

      Delete
  31. 100% Sunny. You are my guru for platform building and absolutely right on!

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    1. You are my apt pupil. You get an A+. Excited to see "Mann of War" coming off the OTP press soon.

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  32. Sunny,

    Good article. For those of you who haven't read Fools Rush In www.ShopOTPbooks.com by Sunny, please do, it's a great read with a fresh twist. I'm looking forward tor eading the sequel. Walt Luce

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    1. (blushing)
      Walter, thanks for the praise. As I told Walter, FOOLS RUSH IN and WHERE ANGELS FEAR are based on real cases I worked with Narcotics and Vice. One's about the meth trade and the other about a sex club we busted. I loved the men I worked with, but sometimes our methods were "unorthodox." That's putting it mildly!

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  33. Following Sunny's suggestions, I found an extra perk. I found a group of smart, humorous, and diligent writers who've been great at supporting me as I began figuring out my platform. My first novel will be published this Spring. I don't want to sound cliche but it takes a village to raise a novel.

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    1. I love that phrase and my steal it from you!

      Having a support system in place sure helps any author struggling to find the way. It builds a feeling of community and gives people confidence. Not a bad way to launch a career, right?

      Kudos on getting published, Theresa!

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  34. I really enjoyed this article. Great advice! Thanks Julie and Sunny for sharing the knowledge.

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    1. We do it for writers like you, Melissa!

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  35. Lots of good advice. A platform is a basic need for writers, and it helps that you've placed some sites for people to refer to.

    Did you mention how overwhelming it all is? Do you know of a site that helps you mellow out to be able to dive in without splattering your brains in millions of pieces throughout the multitude of sites?

    Excuse my grimness and macabre. Going through a moment here. :)

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  36. I believe I did in some of the replies.

    Take a deep breath, Nancy. There's no need to be overwhelmed. Remember, you control the Internet (as well as that irritating cell phone), not the other way around. Do you remember how overwhelming a clock was before you could tell time? How about all those weird letters before you could read? Same difference.

    Let me take your hand and guide you. That's what we do in the Posse. We leave no writer behind.

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  37. Thank you for your response, Sunny. Your analogies make sense, and I realize that I can just do what I can do and leave the rest to God. I'm reading over your website and will see how I can be a part of Posse. Thanks again!

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    1. All I need is your email addy. Contact me via my website.

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  38. This post was really helpful. I have a better understanding of platforms. I was (and still am) a little overwhelmed about creating a platform through social media and other online options because I am now beginning to conceptualize basic development of my first novel. I now understand it is about building your name/brand and establishing your personality. I also feel uncomfortable about posting Facebook and Twitter (@AlexandraCasell) links on other people's blogs because I feel like I am stealing their light. But I read that that is what you are supposed to do. Thanks for the info!

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  39. Posting on the blog of others has to be done politely or with humor. Remember, they always have the delete option.

    There are many of us out there helping new authors learn platform building. It's the #1 topic today! I am very self-serving as I want the authors who come to Oak Tree Press to have the platform in place. My publisher now requires it before giving out a contract.

    If you read the replies to some of the other comments here, you can get info on my Posse and also the Friday Round-Up. Just dive in!

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  40. Jackie Taylor ZortmanJanuary 15, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Just love this article and blog. I have a book coming out by Oak Tree Press soon, but don't know exactly when yet, so this is my first time to dip my toes into the waters of someone's blog. I've been working hard at marketing, at which I am a total novice, but have learned so much already. I have to admit that I'm a little nervous posting this and hope that I soon can figure blogs out and have one of my own. I have found social networking to be extremely productive in marketing, especially Facebook, and have lots of orders waiting for my book already. Now I am creating a newsletter to keep those folks interested until it is released, which I feel is key. Thanks for letting me post on your blog as I sit here and shake just a little bit.

    One question someone might help me with on here, how do you put the little pictures onto this?

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    1. Hi Jackie-- if you drop me an email at jincomt@gmail.com, I'd be happy to answer any blogspot related questions I can. Although I don't claim expertise. Do you mean pictures into your name and profile or pictures into a blog posting? Let me know how I can help out. I've been in the position of asking questions before and always appreciated a gracious and patient response.

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  41. Jackie Taylor ZortmanJanuary 15, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Thanks, Julie, I will write an e-mail to you. I mean putting the picture into the blogs like this one. As you can see, mine has the generic silhouette instead of my picture while everyone else has a little thumbnail photo. Off to e-mail you.

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  42. The best platform builder I know is Jenny Milchman. I first met her 5 years ago, at which point she had been writing for 6 years and been unsuccessful in getting published. Last night, I went to her book launch for Cover of Snow, published by Putnam. (Not too shabby.) In addition to spending 11 years writing 8 books and collecting rejection letters, plus 2 more years waiting for her book to be in print, she built her platform; i.e. name recognition. She is on numerous Listservs, and comments frequently. She has an active blog. Her success at becoming a name, even before she had a project, can be seen by the back cover blurbs on her book and by her pre-publication sales (which, are, of course, even higher now that she's in print). Her advance reviews have been glowing. And it's because she's been involved, interested, and nice to everyone she meets in person or virtually.

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  43. We can all learn a lot from our friend, Jenny--including patience and a strong belief in ones' work. But, she also put the time and energy into her platform by being generous to the rest of us while on her journey. This is what it's all about.

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Thanks for being a part of the conversation. I love reading your thoughts and feedback.