A little over a year ago, peer and fellow SFR writer Isis Rushdan sent me an email that said "This agent is looking for Science Fiction Romance. You really should read this." After devouring agent Amanda Luedeke's interview on Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Chiseled in Rock blog (with several OMG, OMG, OMG moments) I promptly contacted her with a query for my first novel. She responded a short time later asking for the first chapter--and the rest, as the time-worn cliche' goes--is history.
Other than being a fabulous agent, Amanda is probably best known for her weekly posts "Thursdays With Amanda" on ChipMacGregor.com and for offering feedback to authors about the effectiveness of their web sites. Building on that theme, she recently published a self-help book for writers and authors who are working to build or expand their platform, The Extroverted Writer. Amanda's already given me some great advice and as someone who does not excel *cough* at using social media effectively, so I was eager to learn more about her project. So glad I did!
As of this writing, The Extroverted Writer is in the top 30 on three different Amazon lists, and in the top 10 for Kindle e-books on advertising and writing skills. Among the five-star reviews for the book, readers are saying:
"Building a platform can be extremely overwhelming, but Amanda's fresh, humorous perspective provides an entertaining (and reassuring) road map on how to succeed at it."
"Amanda Luedeke, agent at the number one literary agency in the country, MacGregor Literary, Inc., takes you through easy, step by step approaches to growing your online presence...From growing your readership on your blog, to pumping up your number of Twitter followers, to utilizing the eye candy of Pinterest to promote your books, she has it all."
(Wow. Do I ever need this book!) I was eager to learn more from Amanda about The Extroverted Writer and I'm excited to share what she had to say.
Q: Amanda, your book is titled The Extroverted Writer. As a decidedly introverted writer--like many of my peers--I wondered if I could live up to it. Could you talk a little about the purpose of the book and why writers and authors might find it essential as a career-booster?
A: The Internet really changed the lives of Introverts everywhere. Where are we most comfortable? At home. In our comfy-clothes. A cup of coffee or tea beside us. It's not that we don't like people. We just don't like the unpredictability that goes with going out. So that's why we prefer to stay where it's safe. But then the Internet came along and suddenly introverts don't need to leave the comfort of their homes in order to interact with friends and family. They don't even need to get dressed for the day! The Internet gave introverts a safe place to be social. And what's better is there's no urgency to online interactions. I think introverts also freak out over feeling "on the spot" and "on stage." The Internet allows each of us to carefully choose our words AND take the time we need to develop our responses. So all this to say that introverted writers can EASILY become extroverts and marketers and salesmen if they simply turn to the Internet for their social networking. And of course we all know that the authors who are out championing and talking about their books and careers are the ones who are climbing the ranks. There's a reason e-books took off, and that reason is the Internet. Online marketing made the e-book industry happen, because it put authors directly in touch with readers. And frankly, the authors who are most present are the ones reaping the biggest reward. So THAT'S why this book is so timely and needed. Authors need to figure out how to (1) become comfortable with marketing, and (2) do it right.
Q: The “comfort level” thing really makes sense for me and I can see how, with a bit of guidance, an introvert could evolve into an extrovert via the internet. So tell me the story behind the scenes. When did you get the idea to publish The Extroverted Writer and how did it come to be?
A: My background is in marketing. Before I was an agent, I worked for a firm outside of Chicago and did social media marketing and copywriting for pretty big clients. So when I transitioned to publishing, I was astounded at how afraid everyone was at the thought of marketing. So, I started blogging about it every Thursday on our agency blog. Eventually, I built a steady readership. But people don't always want to sift through my old posts to get the answers to their questions. So, The Extroverted Writer was born. It's a compilation of my best posts with a lot of fresh content added in. It's much more searchable than my posts, and I think it smoothes things out and offers a bigger perspective than what I'm able to do on the blog.
Q: That’s great! Easy-to-find references are so my thing. I get frustrated trying to hunt down advice when I’m in Need-to-Know-Now mode. This sounds like a great reference to have handy. It also sounds like the book has some new elements to explore. What do you think might surprise authors and writers about The Extroverted Writer?
A: I think there's an expectation that a book on marketing or social media will have your head spinning. And while that's true about The Extroverted Writer, it's not quite true in the same sense. YES, your mind will be spinning, but not as a result of confusion or foreign terms or any sense of defeat. Your mind will be spinning with possibilities and ideas. There's something in this for everyone; I truly believe that. And I have a knack for making the complex seem simple. So when you come away from reading it, you're going to have actionable steps that you can implement right away. Plua, I cover websites, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and more. So it can be a really great tool to have on hand.
Q: I love the idea of developing a game plan. Twitter and Facebook may be powerful tools, but only if an author uses these social media giants efficiently. Can you give us just one important piece of advice from the book?
A: Stick with what you're comfortable with. Over and over in my book, I encourage the reader to ignore all of the voices telling then to join Pinterest and FourSquare and Twitter and LinkedIn and on and on. Ignore them, because doing so is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, start small. Pick one thing that you're comfortable with, pour your energy into it, and see what happens.
Q. That makes a lot of sense. I know I tend to spread myself way too thin when it comes to social media. But tell me what an unpublished writer can hope to gain from reading The Extroverted Writer as opposed to a published author?
A: In the book I talk about how platform is a MUST for unpublished nonfiction writers. They won't get a book deal without it. But for fiction writers, it's not as expected. While this is still the general rule, I've known publishing houses to select one debut author over another because the former had an online following while the latter didn't. I've also heard stories of publishing houses getting really excited over new authors who come to the table with an understanding of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. So while The Extroverted Writer is definitely a tool for published authors, I also provide insight throughout that brings the same themes home for unpublished writers. If I can help newbies get a leg up by providing them with ideas for getting their online presences together, then I've done my job.
Q: So…Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube--there are so many options for social media. What's your quick take on these sites?
A: Goodreads is a must for published authors. I'd argue Pinterest is a waste of time. LinkedIn is a great option for unpublished authors who are making connections in the business, while YouTube can be powerful if done right. In the book I go more in depth as to why I think what I do when it comes to each of these, and of course there are plenty of ideas and tips to make them work (yes, even Pinterest).
Amanda, thanks so much for taking time out to visit us on Spacefreighters Lounge and sharing more about The Extroverted Writer. I’m enthused to dive in and start learning.
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, Inc. Having previously worked as a social media expert and copywriter for major national brands, including Vera Bradley, Peg Perego, and Benjamin Moore, Amanda brings her marketing expertise to agenting. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband and Great Dane. Amanda can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Links to The Extroverted Writer:Smashwords