So what is your "author platform?" And how do you build one? Author and health coach Roland Denzel talks about his career and how he built his own platform, with tips and ideas for building your own.
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Author Roland Denzel chats with D2D's Kevin Tumlinson about author platforms—what they are, how to build them, and how to get the most out of them.
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people, book, author, platform, mailing list, writing, shoes, website, list, readers, urban fantasy, fiction, squarespace, buy, facebook, wear, community, self publishing, position, find
Kevin Tumlinson, Roland Denzel
Kevin Tumlinson 00:24
Hey, everybody, thank you for tuning in to another D2D Spotlight. And I got a good one today. This is a guy I hardly ever talk to. Except for last night, the night before, all weekend … I'm talking to my good friend, fellow author Roland Denzel. Not to be confused with Roland Denzel, the fictional character from my thrillers, although he is a is a thrilling guy all on his own. So, look at that beard, everyone. So thanks for joining us today, man. I appreciate you being here.
Roland Denzel 00:53
Thanks for having me, Kevin. It's great.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:55
So you and I do talk a lot. We've done quite a few things together. One of the things that comes up and this is something—you pitched this, and I thought this was a good idea. Because this is something important to authors in particular—all authors, independent, traditional or otherwise—that you don't hear talked about that much. You, when you do hear it talked about, it's very high level. No one ever actually defines it. So I want to hear your definition. And I didn't tell you that in advance. So you better have one in your back pocket here. But we're going to be talking about platform-building for authors, among other things. But first let's, before we get to that I want to talk about like you and what you're doing. So you're an author, but you've also got some other stuff going on. Why don't you tell us a little bit about what you got going?
Roland Denzel 01:47
Well, I am, in addition to being an author I'm a health coach. That's how I started, right, and wrote my first five or six books are all about health and fitness. And I started with my story and then got super passionate helping other people. And then along the way, a lot of people in the health and wellness community didn't know what they needed to do to get their websites set up, and their mailing lists established. So I've been helping them with that, helping them, and started helping authors do it as well. So, you know, that kind of leads us into this whole author platform thing, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 02:25
Yeah, that's exactly—and oops, sorry, I cut out there for a second. Yeah. So you're, and that's part of your journey was, you started learning how to build a platform because of that stuff, the coaching and stuff, right?
Roland Denzel 02:40
Yeah, I thought like … You know, I don't know, I can't say that I was way ahead of the head of the game when it came to the author platform. But I started in, you know, 25, it's been 25 or 26 years in the printing and publishing industry, before I started to get into really writing or coaching people. And so I learned a lot about, you know, the internet, mailing lists. I worked for a Fortune 500 company that had a mailing, that sent out emails, but they didn't have mailing lists. Like you couldn't sign up for something to get blog posts and updates and things like that. So I helped them establish that. I started blogging for them, and I could see what it was doing for us and what it wasn't doing for us. So I learned a lot along the way. So then when it came time to write my book, I went ok, I'm gonna do a lot of those things that I learned. I want to, you know, make sure that when somebody hears about me, they get on my email list so I can reach out to them again, because the odds of them finding me again, are pretty slim, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 03:45
Yeah. You already pulled off one miracle.
Roland Denzel 03:47
I know. I know. And what really, for those of you who are hesitant about creating an email list, or think oh, you know, I have a lot of Facebook followers or Twitter followers, or Amazon sends out a blast every time I have a new book, those things are all great. And I'm not saying you shouldn't have those things. But my wife and I, who's my, one of my co-authors, we had access to 25,000 people on a forum. And then one month before our book launched, the forum tanked and went under. And then we lost access to all those all those people, right? So yeah, so that was gone. So you know, the book did okay. And it recovered. I had a lot of, you know, friends, but at that point, I had the essence of an email list, but no, I had not made any real efforts. So from that day on, my wife and I were like, everything we gotta do is to get people on our list. Because you own your list. You don't own that forum's list, you don't own Facebook's list, and they could just, and Amazon, if they decide tomorrow to stop sending email blasts out about new releases …
Kevin Tumlinson 05:01
What? Amazon changing the way they do things with no notice?
Roland Denzel 05:05
I know, I know. It's crazy.
Kevin Tumlinson 05:09
You brought up some very good points there. I'm gonna dive into this more, but I do want to, because I forgot to say this at the beginning everyone, but if you have questions, please please feel free to ask them. As many as you want on Facebook or YouTube, no matter where you're watching. Ask in the comments, because at the last 15 minutes of the broadcast, we're going to answer those live. So ask anything you want. Yeah, so how would you … I think we sort of skirted around this a little, but how would you personally define what a platform is?
Roland Denzel 05:45
A platform is not one thing. It's like a, what's the word, it's a conglomerate. It's a collection of all of the things that you have at your disposal to touch, inspire, and communicate with your readers and your potential readers, your future readers. So that involves, that includes, you know, your website of course, all of your social media platforms, and the biggest one that we've already talked about was your email list. And it'll probably include other things down the road, like, you know, like Facebook Messenger, you know, communication, and …
Kevin Tumlinson 06:27
Right. But as you pointed out, you don't own those things. So they're kind of supplemental to your platform, I think.
Roland Denzel 06:34
Yeah, they are. So I mean, all of those things, play in, all of those things are important. But, so you can't really ignore them. But you have to make sure that you own as much of your customer or reader data as possible.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:52
So should you be working actively—and whenever I think about platform, I'm almost unilaterally thinking about my mailing list, which maybe is not quite accurate—but on the social platforms and everywhere else, I mean, should you be actively working to get them corralled into something that you own and control?
Roland Denzel 07:16
Kevin Tumlinson 07:19
That's like a leading question, right? I know the answer to this question.
Roland Denzel 07:21
Yes, Kevin. That's a brilliant question. So, yeah, so like, I'm active on Facebook because I enjoy it. I'm active on Instagram because I enjoy it. But it's, like, the goal is to reach a deeper level of communication, right? So once they come, it's like an act of trust on their part to give you their email list. Their email address. So like, once they, you know, you entice them somehow, like for fiction or nonfiction authors, you can give them a free book or free short story. Super easy for nonfiction authors because you can give them like, "10 tips to do this," or "10 tips to help you with your problem." So it's much easier to do. With fiction, it's a little bit tougher just because you have to, like, if you have two books, do you want to give away your first book, right? That's a hard decision to make. But if you have 10 books, it's not so hard to give away the first book. And increasingly more, there are so many free books out there, it's really hard to entice a reader with like free chapters. So it has to be something almost unique, like a short story or a prequel, or if you're like, you're a thriller author, so you might have, if he was a spy, you'd have a dossier or some sort of background or something. So then there's, so you want to give them something that's going to get them on that list. And you tease those things on social media. Like, you keep your social media—and social media I think has two purposes. Entertain the people you already have, and entice the potential readers onto your list. Great if they buy a book straight from Facebook, or if they buy a book straight from Twitter or Instagram. But that hardly ever happens. People aren't there to buy stuff. They're there to have fun.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:08
Right. And that's kind of the realization I had, especially when it comes—and I'm not gonna ever say that Facebook ads are not effective for selling books.
Roland Denzel 09:18
That's different though, than just, you know, hanging out on Facebook and sharing stuff about your books.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:24
Yeah. And in my experience, it just feels like for my dollar, my return on investment, if I use that that ad dollar to get them onto a platform I control, I can earn more from that one reader than I will earn in return for convincing them to buy the book through a Facebook ad. That's how I've always looked at it. I don't know about your experience there.
Roland Denzel 09:51
Yeah, so I mean, I'm primarily nonfiction. I'll be going to people like you and Nick Thacker for like advice when it comes to, like a lot of this fiction stuff, when my fiction is out. But for nonfiction, you know, it's easy to do an ad to give them something free. And I think for the fiction authors, I mean I've been, I've seen ads, I read science fiction and urban fantasy and I get their ads. And I'm like, Oh, I do want that, you know, that free book. On Facebook, so I'll click it and join, and now I'm on their list and now I'm a happy reader. But you brought up an interesting point, like if you're a prolific author—like you're a prolific author. So if it takes you, your time has value. I mean, it's a very complicated formula, but I'm sure you could figure out, like, how much time you know …
Kevin Tumlinson 10:47
It involves, like, square root symbols, and …
Roland Denzel 10:48
I know, you know, pi and not the good kind of pie. So, but like you spend so much time … If you have to spend hours on social media to get somebody to buy your book or to join your list, how much was that time worth, versus creating an ad instead that does the same thing. So if you spent $50 on an ad that gets 10 people, that's a lot of people for $50. But, you know, you get x number of people for $100 or $50 …
Kevin Tumlinson 11:18
Hopefully you're getting at least 10 people for $50.
Roland Denzel 11:21
I don't know. Like, it depends on your genre, right? For science fiction it's really hard, it's really competitive. For urban fantasy it's super competitive. For diet and nutrition books, it's super competitive, right. So. But the math still works, because you spent … How much could you have written? So you're, like, trading $50 for free time to write. Because, all that time sharing things just to get somebody on your list, it's probably not gonna be worth it. There's nothing to say you shouldn't be on social media to keep your customers happy, to be active so when people come find you on your Facebook page that they know that you're active there. Or see that you're at least somewhat active there, that it's not a dead zone. But spending a lot of time there … Better to spend a little bit of money there than a lot of time there.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:21
Yeah, yeah, I agree. There's that whole … Money and time have sort of an interesting relationship, and it's not equal.
Roland Denzel 12:29
Yeah. And it's not the same, it's also not the same for somebody who only has one, they're starting off with one book, right? So if you have one book or two books, or you're a slow author, a slow writer, and you have a lot of extra time, then maybe it's worth doing more, being more active on social media. But like, if you simply can't write more.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:52
So, when it comes to the folks who only have maybe one book, or even no books, they haven't yet published. Maybe they haven't even written yet. We tend to give the advice that the best time to start building your platform is right now, no matter where you are in that journey. I don't know if you agree with that. Maybe you don't agree with that.
Roland Denzel 13:13
Well, I do in one sense, that—look, so if you have nothing, or if you have, if you haven't published a book yet, you should build your platform now and have your list now. Not because it's going to collect stuff now, but once your book is out, that's not the time to build your list. That's the time to have everything in place. You need to be ready now, confident that it works, so you can send your family, or a couple of friends, or some writers will find you. You're going to be sharing on Facebook that you're writing a thriller or writing an urban fantasy. And it's like, it's the greatest thing since True Blood, right, and a couple people are going to join. And they're going to be you know, really like your true fans, interested. So it's a good time to have that and know that it works, so it takes the pressure off. So when your book launches, and people read your book, and come—they get into your system, because that's not the time to risk losing somebody who already read your book.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:14
Yeah. So what are some approaches, especially if you don't already have a book released, what are some approaches to start building your platform?
Roland Denzel 14:23
Well the first thing to do is not overthink what your platform needs to be, right. So your website, let's take your website. People want to, you know, you and I talked about some authors recently we saw that spend thousands of dollars on a website that, whether it looks beautiful or not, it doesn't do anything to sell books. So like, your website is your home base. People want to Google you and find you. They want to type in your URL and they hear your name, and they go there and your website has basically one goal, either to— or, one of one or two goals. Get them get them on your list, or get them to buy your book. Right? It's kind of, there's a … I don't know which one is—it's going to be different for everybody, like, which is the one that, you know, which gets weighted more. There's no right or wrong right so, but if you go to a website that has a blog and it has all these sidebars with all these widgets and like "come follow me here, come follow me there." Well, those are all distractions. They're gonna go, " Well, I don't need to buy the book now. I'm going to check this dude out," right? And then I'm going to go over here and now they're lost now. "Yeah, he's fun. And I'm gonna follow him on Instagram." A year later, they still haven't bought your book.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:35
I feel like you're criticizing my website right now. That's what I feel like. I feel a little attacked, Roland.
Roland Denzel 15:41
Do you have a lot of widgets and stuff?
Kevin Tumlinson 15:43
No, I don't have a lot widgets. But I do have, like, everything I am into is in that menu bar right now.
Roland Denzel 15:52
Well, I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, the menu bar, if you're going to put that stuff there, on your website, the menu bar is where it should be. Because that's going to be, somebody has to make a decision to explore. Right? So. but when they go to your website, the first thing they should see, like before they have to do any sort of scrolling is, it should tell them what you're about.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:11
Roland Denzel 16:12
So I am a urban fantasy author, or I am a science fiction author, and the, you're a thriller author. So like they see, and like, it's great if you have books, that's a great place right at the top. Put your image of all of your books. So they're like, "Oh, my gosh, he has a lot of books too," right? So then it's like, what do you want them to do? Do you want them to buy your books? Then make that image clickable, so it clicks to your books. If you want them to join your list, say, "Get my free book," like right in the image like write, you know, get my free book, click on that image. They scroll down, then they can see other things, then they can see what's your second choice. So if it's "join my list" first thing, scroll. If they're like, "Eh, I'm not going to join your list." You know, "I don't join lists." Scroll down. "Oh, let's see all my books. I'm going to go click on, here's the first book of my series, this is where I want you to start." So think of it, what do you want them to do? And where should they get started? And make it clear: start here. Start reading here.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:11
And by the way, yeah, this is exactly why, despite people hating them, pop-ups are actually very effective. Because they are, if your goal is to get people on your mailing list, a pop-up is the very first thing they see. But what you have to do is, most people are going to click out that pop-up. Like, I don't know, to make up a percentage … 85% are gonna click out of that thing. But if you want to continue to have the offer to join your mailing list in every part of your website, so
Roland Denzel 17:45
Because you can't get that pop-up back. Like, I've been on websites where like, like the pop-up appears right away, right? And I'm like, oh, you know, like after I read them, like, you know what, I wish that pop-up would come back, because how do I sign up for this thing if they don't have any other signup things, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 17:58
I'm part of the, uh, 15% who didn't sign up. And so now, you have to give them an alternative to get on your mailing list.
Roland Denzel 18:07
Yeah. So there's a couple things you can do, is that you can have, like, something that's a little bit subtle. Like if you have WordPress, and I'm not sure if Squarespace does this, but WordPress, a lot of little plugins which make like a banner right across the top, right. And you can say whatever you want. Sign up to my, get your free book here, click this button, right? And it goes on every page. That's an easy way to do it. Squarespace I think has something like that. It's like a notification bar. There's also plugins that make it at the bottom of every blog post, or you know, all these different kinds of things that can do it. But just have it all over the place. If you have a sidebar with widgets, right, one widget right at the top, you know, wherever it should be, you know, and then put another one at the bottom there.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:53
Yeah, there needs to be, "join my list," if that's your primary focus, or it needs to be "buy this book" or these books. Whatever your, as you put it, like whatever the main thing that you want this site to do, that top level thing needs to be about that.
Roland Denzel 19:09
Yeah. Although never say "join my list," I would say. Like, the things you could say, like the worst thing to say is "join my newsletter" and the second thing is "join my list," because no one wants to be on a list.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:18
What do you recommend? I know, I know, this has been around for as long as I've been doing any internet marketing. It's always a debate about what you should put there. It used to be you could say "join my tribe," and now that's played out. So what do you recommend?
Roland Denzel 19:35
Well, if you have a … Wherever I get my free thing, like wherever my free thing is, right? They know you're gonna be on a list.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:45
People do yell. Just so we're clear, people do yell at you sometimes, to tell you that's not really free if I got to sign up. I had a guy email me, yelling at me for offering him a whole page of free novels, because he had to sign up on mailing lists, so he got very upset with me. So it does happen.
Roland Denzel 20:05
That type of person is probably never going to buy your book.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:08
Never gonna buy the book. That was my attitude too.
Roland Denzel 20:09
So if they've subscribed anyway, like, if somebody never buys my book and they're complaining about the stuff that I'm saying, I just gracefully unsubscribe them. Or just ignore.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:27
Ignore it? I'm too spiteful. Go put 'em on Nick's list or something.
Roland Denzel 20:32
Yeah, yeah. So um, so I would say, "get my free thing." And you know, if you don't have anything free yet, it could be "get updates on my book," something like that. So like, it's what is … just like anything, just like copywriting, right? What problem are you going to solve? Their problem is, they want to, they want a book. They want something to read. The problem is, they want to know when you're going to release the book, right? So tell them that.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:00
Yeah, exactly. The other thing that, and we have about 10 minutes before we start asking folks, or start having folks ask us questions. And by the way, if you're watching, if you haven't already, pop a question into the comments, because we're going to answer those in the last 15 minutes. So, one of the things that you also pitched beyond platform-building … This is shifting gears entirely. But you were gonna, you were willing to talk about ergonomics. I would, I am particularly interested in that sort of thing, as every, literally every joint on my body now pops, and I'm constantly having aches and pains. So talk a little bit about that.
Roland Denzel 21:43
So I know at your previous studio, right, you had a standing desk. Do you have a standing … I don't know if you have access to a standing desk where you are right now.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:53
Yeah, I have a way to do some standing desk stuff. I have one—actually I think you may have something similar. I have this thing that I bought off Amazon recently that can go up to different sizes. To different heights. So, yeah.
Roland Denzel 22:07
Yeah, those are those are great. So obviously, like, the biggest … We've all heard that sitting is the new smoking, that sitting kills, all that kind of stuff, right? But it's not really true. It's only true because all we ever do is sit. So if, the sedentary, being sedentary and being in the same position all the time is what's really bad for you. So sedentary is the new smoking, could maybe be what it is. Because when you sit—now granted, sitting for a long period of time is probably worse for you than standing, because when you stand for a long period of time, like I'm standing right now, you move around, and like, you're constantly shifting your weight. When you're sitting, you sit super still, right? But if you stand too long, it can be just as bad as sitting. There's a little-known fact that the Industrial Revolution came about, and everyone was standing, Like, there were no sitting desks, right? Because desk chairs were expensive. and it kept people from sitting around. So like, if you're on like a factory floor making stuff, everyone's standing at like tall counters, hopefully they were tall. But you know, like, once things started to like, really crank and people were able to work standing in one position for a long period of time, like unions and guilds and things like that started demanding sitting time. So that's when like the desks and the sitting, you know, came and, you know, 107 years later, we're suffering from that.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:39
Yeah, we're all hunched over.
Roland Denzel 23:41
Yeah, yeah. Neck forward, right? Yeah, make computers make it even worse, because like I don't know if you can see my neck going like that, you know? Yeah, so ergonomics is a big thing, like it's everything from … Probably in the olden days, I'm 53, so when I was, you know, starting off in computers like, 30 years ago, we didn't use them all day long. We did a lot of stuff by hand, and we had shared computers we could use. So we could go back and forth. But at a certain point, people started getting, you know, carpal tunnel syndrome, because people would be data processing with the same, you know, and so people would get dialed in, let's get a better chair, a better keyboard, a better mouse, you know, and those are better than nothing. But if you get the perfect keyboard, and you get the perfect desk setup, you can actually make things worse long-term. Because now you're super comfortable in that position, so now you can stay in that position even longer. So like, ask yourself what's better: being in a bunch of different positions that you're constantly having to change to be comfortable, to change your comfort level, or dialing yourself in to the perfect "ergonomic position" and then staying there all day.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:05
Yeah, yeah. That's fascinating. I never even thought of it that way.
Roland Denzel 25:10
Yeah, so that's why instead of like getting a, I recommend instead of getting a standing desk, I tell people to get a sit-stand desk right? Or to have, and the best kinds of the ones like yours where it can go up and down, so it's not even exactly the same position. Because yours goes up and down, you can sit in a regular chair, you could get a stool, right? Like I have a leaning stool, which is sort of a halfway, you can have like a wobble stool. So I can sit on that, I can lean back into it, I can stand, I can stand differently, and just at different heights because like, I don't know, if you, like, if you're typing and you're—imagine that this is parallel to the ground—like you're typing, and like there's just sort of different positions you can get. But if you're locked into this 90 degrees all the time, which is you know, they say is the ideal typing position. Over time, that's going to be a problem too.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:06
Yeah. It's kind of like … We were just telling a story around the campfire here at home a few nights ago. My in-laws used to be expats. And they were living in Montaigne, places like that. And there was a woman who was the wife of one of the people who worked for the company, who never wore anything but high heels. And so when she came to that region, she couldn't really wear high heels because of the way, you know, the ground is uneven and all that. So they had to get special tennis shoes, so that she could, that had an elevated heel, and then they gradually stepped them down until she could walk on flats because she literally could not walk on flat shoes. Your body will adapt, right?
Roland Denzel 26:53
It adapts. Yeah, your calves get shortened. And that can happen. I mean, it happens mostly to women, because women, like especially in the business world, are conditioned to wear higher heels, every day all day. And then like, even when they get home at night, they're like, "Oh, it hurts. My feet hurt so much when I wear, you know, like wear flats," so they don't do it. So the more you can do to bring that down. I think we're seeing less and less of it. There's a more of a, there's … but yeah, but men can get that too. Like if you look at some of the, even like, men's dress shoes can have like a pretty substantial heel. And athletic shoes. For some reason, these athletic shoes—like remember the Nike Shocks with those things in the back? Yeah. I have like, I wear minimal shoes, which have like, very little to no …
Kevin Tumlinson 27:49
I know, I wear Chuck Taylors and Vans and stuff, which tend to be pretty flat. Not great for jagged and rocky surfaces, I've discovered. Just so people are aware, it's not the perfect shoe.
Roland Denzel 28:02
They're also very narrow. They're also very narrow. And so not only do I have wide feet, but I have wide feet that I'm trying to make wider. Like, I don't want to keep my feet in there, I want my toes to be able to move. So yeah, I do a lot of barefoot or I have minimal shoes that actually have wide toe boxes.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:20
So do you recommend going barefoot a lot?
Roland Denzel 28:26
Yeah, as much as possible.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:29
I need my wife to listen to this. She gets onto me because I'm barefoot all the time. I was raised in, you know, a small Texas town. You know, if you were wearing shoes you were in school or in church, so otherwise you wandered around barefoot all the time.
Roland Denzel 28:44
Well, I grew up in shoes but I spent a year—my, we lived in Borneo for a year. And I lost my shoes on the plane over there and I already had wide feet, and my parents could not find any shoes in the island of Borneo that were wide enough for me. So I went barefoot for a year. And so it made quite a difference. And yeah, so now what I recommend, my wife and I are both health coaches, we're both, we're sort of exercise specialists. So we talk a lot about minimal shoes and helping people go from shoes to, you know, high shoes, more constructed shoes, supporting shoes, to shoes with less support. Because, ideally, our feet don't need support. Right? They need support now because we've worn shoes that have supported them artificially, which makes our feet weak. And so now when we take off our shoes, we're like, oh, my feet need support. Well they don't, they just need to be strengthened so they don't need support anymore.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:51
So what about the little foot-shaped shoes with the toes and everything? Should you be wearing something like that?
Roland Denzel 30:00
I have a pair of those. My wife has several pairs of those. So, I don't like them. I mean, I like them okay. I have two pairs, they take a lot of getting used to and they're hard to get on and off, because then you really got to get your toes in those little toe fingers, or whatever you call them. They're like toe gloves, right? So at first, those were like the first real minimal shoes that they ever produced. Vibran Five Fingers. But now there's more. Those are still good and they're still available. And if you really like that, if you're really athletic in them, then those are great because like they really, they fit around it like a glove, right? So there's no slipping and sliding. So it's really good for like athletic purposes. But I have shoes that look more like regular shoes, like I have New Balance Minimus which has a wider toe box, but they look like a regular shoe and they don't have individual toe things.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:57
Yeah and I saw, I think I saw this on Facebook actually. an ad for something very similar to those. But they were more like socks made of like, I don't know, Kevlar or something. You know, they were really durable. And I thought okay, maybe I'll consider that. They showed him wearing them in the water and swimming and that sort of thing.
Roland Denzel 31:18
A Kevlar sock sounds pretty cool.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:20
It does, it sounds like the name of a band actually. Kevlar Socks. So we are, right now we're at the 30-minute mark. So we're going to open things up to ask us anything. Make sure you pop your questions into the comments and we will answer them live. I'm going to go through and look at some of the, we've had a couple of comments so far. We got a "Hello" from Fatima who's on Facebook. Yeah. We got Guy saying "Hi there, pleasure to be with you from Montreal, Canada." That's fun. Then we went from Montreal all the way south with Jimmie here in Dallas, Texas. That's my home state. Elyssa is one of our D2D folks, clearly spotting your artwork behind you. Taco is her favorite emotion. We had a whole taco discussion with my Kevin Show audience last night, and I think now I know why. They spotted your taco. Lexi, also a D2D—what should we call them—a D2D alum offering us a "Good afternoon," and of course Tory is saying hello. So no questions yet. We'll keep chatting on. But yeah, be sure to pop a question in there and we're happy to answer it for you. And you can ask now about either platform-building for authors and/or ergonomics. How about the ergonomics of platform-building?
Roland Denzel 33:00
Yeah, that's a good one. Combined. They talk about, you really gotta niche down and stuff, right? So like, that's like, you know, if you can, you know, the Venn diagram of people who build their platform and also need to do ergonomics.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:16
Yeah, we can get into the nitty gritty details of that sort of thing. You know, and like I said, I tend to rely, I really put all my money on my mailing list, you know. To the point where, you know, I got guys in my life who are really into the ads and monitoring it. You know, guys like Ernest Dempsey, for example, is a pro at all the different ad platforms. So is Nick Thacker. You know these guys. And here I am just sort of, you know, relying—I almost rely exclusively on my mailing list at this point. Um, should I be expanding my platform?
Roland Denzel 34:00
Um, not at the expense of writing books, probably.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:03
It's working for me, so.
Roland Denzel 34:05
Yeah, so I mean, the question always is, like, with anything. With my health clients, with author clients, with anybody. When people say it's working, right, is it working as well as we want it to work, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 34:22
Are you trying to make me feel bad?
Roland Denzel 34:24
No, no, I'm not trying, but it's just a bonus, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 34:25
No, but it's very, yeah, it is true.
Roland Denzel 34:28
Yeah, so we probably all know somebody who has been in great health all their life. And then one day, they're like, the doctor says they have diabetes. Right? So were they actually in great health all their life, or were there, maybe there were some signs. It's like, you know, a tipping point or their funnel overflows, whatever analogy you want. And, but with, so people … Like, there are people who are doing fine without a mailing list. And they're like, well, I don't need a mailing list cuz I'm doing fine. Well, what if they were doing twice as good, if they also had a mailing list, right? What if they're only doing well … What if their big social media is not actually getting them the readers? Maybe it's something else, right? And what if that other thing goes away? They don't know how to do it. They don't know how to, they don't have a way to capture those people. Right? We've seen big changes when people lose their Facebook page. For, somebody reports them, and they move to a new Facebook page. Well, now that outreach is gone.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:29
Diversification helps you to protect yourself from that sort of thing.
Roland Denzel 36:31
Yeah. And one of the people, one of the things that I hear a lot is, well, I mean, I'm on MailChimp. MailChimp could, I mean I could get marked as spam too many times and they could yank me. Well, that is true. But you will have smartly backed up your entire list to your computer and to the cloud and everything, right? And then you can import that list to MailerLite, or Author.email, or whatever, and now you can start over, because that list is yours. The list doesn't belong to MailChimp, the list doesn't belong to any of these people. The list is yours.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:10
Okay, we got some questions. I'm gonna pop a couple up here. So first up, Lexi's asking, "Are there particular, any particular website …" I'm sorry, I'm having trouble reading it. Let me read it over here. "Are there particular website hosting services you find to be author-friendly, particularly with newer authors?" Took me a while to get through that. I don't know why.
Roland Denzel 36:33
Yes. And so, I'm partial to WordPress. Kevin is partial to Squarespace. And we both do stuff with both. So those are both, those are like hosting platforms. But then, the more important thing is getting something up there. So we're, I was talking to some people the other day about the benefits of, for many authors, especially if you're writing fiction, of just having a landing page, right? Because you can have like a one-page website that has, you know … And D2D can do that for you. The author, what's it called? The Author Pages?
Kevin Tumlinson 37:11
Roland Denzel 37:12
Yeah, so with Author Pages, you can list all your books, you can have a link either to be notified by—it's Draft2Digital's list, but ideally, you would change that link to your own mailing list sign-up. So somebody comes to your one page website. They see immediately, because you have a big thing, like, here's your page, here's your picture, here's your books. If you don't have books yet, it can be just like, your signup list. And here's an image. So if you have a one page website, that's all you need. At the base level, yeah, the minimum right. If you have a mailing list service already, like MailerLite, they have landing pages. So you can create a landing page, MailerLite call them sites, and you can add buttons for your social media and all those kinds of things on that page. So they just, you must buy your URL. But once you have that URL, whether you buy it from GoDaddy or Namecheap, you go into your dashboard, and you point it straight to that landing page. So that's the minimum. That's the minimum. When you get more elaborate, and especially for nonfiction authors, I would definitely recommend doing something like Squarespace or WordPress with a fairly simple website. Because with nonfiction, it does help to have some content. Whether people find it or not, whether you do SEO or not, it doesn't matter. A lot of people want to trust the nonfiction author, that they actually know what they're talking about. So on our nutrition, we have like hundreds of blog posts. So people come there and yeah, we hope that a lot of people find out from SEO, but when we first started out, we had to establish our credibility.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:59
Right, yeah. And we keep talking about, you know, Squarespace and WordPress in particular, because that's what we use, but both have their advantages and disadvantages. I mean, WordPress has a lot more options in terms of like third-party plugins and things like that. I've always liked Squarespace just because it's, you pay one fee, and they, you know, provide you with this whole list of tools and resources. And it's more or less plug and play. I kind of get into the code a little and do some things here and there, but for the most part, it's a WYSIWYG, you know, what you see is what you get kind of format. Elyssa is asking, "Do you find yourself more productive in writing while standing versus sitting?"
Roland Denzel 39:45
Different things are better in different positions for me. So it's, sometimes it's very hard to be creative, like writing fiction, standing up. But it's really easy to write emails. I can make changes to my website. I can write my mailing list emails standing up. I can do a lot of Zoom meetings. You know, I'm doing a meeting here, right? So, like, a lot of those kinds of things are standing up. But when I really want to write fiction, or I'm trying to get in the mind of my readers and my other things, for some reason, I gotta sit down. It's like I have a button on my butt that only turns on that part of my brain when I'm sitting. But over time, it sort of changes. So what I recommend to my clients is to keep, you know, sort of keep a mental note of what you do. So if you're writing for a long period of time sitting down, set some sort of a timer, and you can get up and you can read your emails on your phone, or you can take your laptop over to a countertop and you can do some, you know, that's where you do your Zoom meetings, because then you can pace and you have a wireless headset.
Kevin Tumlinson 40:54
I also like that aspect, by the way, of changing—like changing gears for the different types of tasks you're doing. And I've done that, that actually does help. And I actually go so far as like, I have different writing software, for example that I use for … One for writing copy, you know, any blog posts and that sort of thing, and one for writing fiction. But in the day, back when I first started copywriting and was still trying to write some fiction, writing and selling short fiction, I actually had a baseball cap that I'd put on when I was writing fiction. And it was my writer's cap. And once it was on, I knew, that's what I'm supposed to be doing. I could feel the band, you know. That's nothing to do with ergonomics. But.
Roland Denzel 41:39
When you were blogging, did you have a little hat that said "Press" in the band?
Kevin Tumlinson 41:42
Blogging didn't exist as a term until much, much later after my writing career started. So I was blogging before there was a term for it. Yeah, no, I never … I kind of dropped that as a habit. Because you know, you start traveling and you don't always have your cap with you or whatever, but you still want to write. All right, this is a, hold on. This may push us right off the screen. Let's see, boom. I definitely got to read this in the other window though. So "When considering platform building, I want my newsletter to be number one. But I also want a place for readers to create a community. What would be the best place? A forum hosted on my site because I'd have control? Or something readers are familiar with, like Facebook groups? Except they can change the algos anytime." Yeah, that's the sort of thing we're talking about too.
Roland Denzel 42:32
Yeah, that's hard because … like we all remember the day when you had, you know, you were in a Facebook group of 100 people and like you saw everything, and now you don't. So the challenge is to find … Facebook is easy. People will sign up for your Facebook group, because most people are on Facebook. Then they might not see that see the things, right? But we have, in the nonfiction side, a lot of my clients will sign up for Slack and I'll create a special Slack community. On the fiction side people, the readers are like, what is Slack? I don't want to do this thing, right? In the science fiction, if you're a science fiction writer, you might be able to get away with Discord, because a lot of science fiction and gamers—and if you do Lit RPG they probably live in Discord anyway. So like creating a Discord channel for them would be great. If you believe your readership would like a like a forum, where it's private, then definitely you could try it out. There's a lot of WordPress plugins that give you like free, you know, sort of that are free or very inexpensive, where you can do a forum and you can try that out. There's also Mighty Networks, which is a different, you know, sort of a combination forum. It's like, I think of it more like a Facebook group where you can have different categories and things like that. Sort of a prettier version of Slack. And the benefit, Fatima, is that you're getting them off of, with all these things, you're getting them off of Facebook, and they're getting them into your own your own system where they're focused more on you and on themselves. So you're better able to build a community. It's getting tougher and tougher to build a really good community in Facebook. I might still have it. But I try to get people always on your list, so if they start stopping to see that, then you can offer them, "Hey, do you want to get notifications just about the community?" Right? And you can maybe send a weekly or a monthly thing with the new things that happened in this community, just to remind them outside of Facebook, on how they can be more engaged.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:41
The whole community, the community idea I like. I've always had trouble with, you know, it's just one more thing I got to manage. And so that's me being lazy. But I … go ahead.
Roland Denzel 44:55
I think—well, I mean, I would love to have, like I'm trying to imagine like, let's say if I had a big series. Would my readers like to have a group where they have a community? And I don't know, but what would be like, possibly what might be better is to team up with a couple of other authors in your genre. And create a little community for the, sort of like a collective community. That's an option. Right? The risk there is like if you have to, like you're friends and like, what if you're not friends in a couple of years? I mean, so there are some risks to both of those things. But just like, most of us can't write fast enough to keep our readers fully entertained on just our books. So if you team up with some other like-minded authors, then you know, you're gonna keep this going.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:51
Well, we're at time so we're going to have to wrap this up. We're actually slightly past time. So thanks to everyone who—
Roland Denzel 45:59
Kevin Tumlinson 46:00
I know. Despite my best efforts we still didn't end before 12:45. But if you are watching here, make sure you go check out Roland online at indestructibleauthor.com. Alternatively, rolanddenzel.com. And, you know, make sure you get on his mailing list, join his platform. And speaking of platforms, make sure you subscribe to us on YouTube. If you go to YouTube.com/Draft2Digital, you can subscribe to our channel and we really appreciate that. You can also follow us here on Facebook at Facebook.com/Draft2Digital and make sure you are bookmarking D2DLive.com, because that's where you're gonna see a fancy countdown, have access to, that'll show you when the next D2D Spotlight is happening. But you can also pick up on all the past episodes of this thing. We've been doing one a day for weeks now. There's a huge library of these things. A great wealth of knowledge you will never find on the topic of self-publishing. So, Roland, thanks so much for being a part of this program. I mean, we talk all the time, but it's always, every time we talk, it's a brand new adventure, man.
Roland Denzel 47:12
I love it. It's great. Thanks for having me.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:14
All right, everybody. Thank you for tuning in. Feel free to keep posting things in the comments and chatting amongst yourselves. That's our community. And we'll see you all tomorrow for another D2D spotlight at noon Central, so make sure you check it out tomorrow. See you there.
Roland Denzel 47:32