Wednesday, February 02, 2011

How to Achieve Balance Between Your (Sheesh, I Hate This Word) Platform and Your Writing

This week the indomitable Katie Davis has agreed to fill in for Grace (who is on a 2-week school visit marathon). Katie Davis
has published nine books and appears monthly on the ABC affiliate show, Good Morning Connecticut, recommending great books for kids. She produces Brain Burps About Books, a podcast about kidlit, a blog and monthly newsletter. Smart about marketing, books and balance, we're so glad Katie has agreed to share some of her insights with us here:

Don’t freak out when you read what I’m about to write. I’ll tell you the trick in a second.

My platform consists of my blog, a monthly TV appearance on a local CT morning show to promote kidlit, a monthly newsletter, and a weekly podcast. Then there’s the usual tweeting, emailing, book promotion, and Facebook distraction. I also write and illustrate books, do a bunch of literacy-based volunteer stuff, and I have two teenagers, a very easy husband, and Mango the Adorable Dog.

When people hear about all this stuff I do they usually say, “Where did you get those extra hours in your day?” or “Well, you have more energy than I do!” or “You are insane.”

One of those comments is true but I’m not telling which.

I do get a lot done, but it’s not as much as I make it seem. I know how to do the whole smoke and mirrors thing. It gives the impression that I’m doing everything ALL the time.

To answer the question set up by my title, think REPURPOSE. It’s my new favorite word. Actually, Grace Lin inspired the subject of this post when she asked this very question on my podcast. She queried whether it was okay to re-use the same material for a blog post and a newsletter (or something like that). I believe it is definitely okay. And therein lies the smoke and the mirrors.

Even though it seems like I’m doing a lot – and don’t get me wrong, I am – I’m trying to make the most of what I do by getting more use out of each endeavor. I had a college friend who used to call this time-deepening.

How does this work? Here are the steps:

Say my Good Morning, CT gig is coming up. I’ll read the books I’m recommending (duh), then grab the covers off the internet. I send my producer the covers and blurbs about a week in advance so they know what images to show while I’m on. While I’m doing that, I have my newsletter open, and upload the images there, entering in the blurbs. I used to write my own copy for each book, but now with the added demands of the podcast, I’ve given that up and simply use the publisher’s description. I send an email to the authors, illustrators, and sometimes the publishers telling them I’m taking the book on TV and could they please send me a unique bit on the book’s creation for my newsletter. I offer writing prompts to facilitate that, and sometimes get some great “interviews” that way. Often I’ll also interview that same author on my podcast, so now I’ve time-deepened my reading and prep efforts once via the TV show, once, the podcast, and once through the newsletter.

I’ve also repurposed for my blog via my podcast because I write show notes for every episode and use them to help me with the accompanying blog post once the episode is ready to upload. I have started to time-deepen my podcast editing session by doing non-thinking activities while listening. When I hear something that requires cutting, I’ll click back over to Garageband, do my editing as necessary, and whenever any linkable comment comes up, I’ll go back to the open blog post window and make the bulleted note (because I always write up what’s in the episode so people will know what I covered…in case they especially do or do not want to listen)!

Because this post is so long, and I’m writing in detail what I do, it seems like a huge complicated effort, but because I re-use content across my various delivery systems it’s not as overwhelming as it seems. I’m not trying to be disingenuous, I do know it’s a lot, it’s just not as much as it appears to be.

If you are going to repurpose your content, there is one important point to stress. I think it’s crucial to include unique material in each category so, though you’re repurposing, you’re just overlapping. In other words, my podcast will give listeners something new that, if they also subscribe to my newsletter, they won’t have read. Or if someone reads my blog there is always something unique that they won’t see or hear in the podcast, the TV clip or the newsletter.

Doing all this re-using gives me time for my writing and illustrating. I get up and answer the bulk of my email first thing, over coffee. I try to schedule my time by tweeting only in the morning and evening (the operative word being try). I don’t always succeed. But I love doing all this stuff. It’s fun for me. When I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that I don’t have to do it. Or I let something slide. Because in the end, what really matters is doing what I love, which is writing for children. Oh, and promoting other people’s books. Oh wait. Also supporting literacy and…

I think I’m going to need to repurpose my repurposing


alvina said...

Wow. This all sounds exhausting, but it also makes sense. So smart!

This made me realize that I repurpose at work, too--We write fact sheet copy when we're trying to acquire a book, and I also write out my "speech" for acquisitions meeting. And when I'm trying to write jacket and catalog copy, I'll draw from those two places (which are also drawn from the agent or author's cover letter!). When I'm preparing my materials for Focus meeting and library previews, I'll also draw from those sources. And when I write my "Beyond the Book" posts for this blog, I draw from all of those places, too.

I think I'm going to start crowss-posting my posts here on my personal blog again. REPURPOSE!

Karen Romano Young said...

"A very easy husband"?

Because I've been hanging out with Katie for a while I can add this: she has carefully chosen what she wants to do from all that is possible, and made it her focus -- then figured out how to make it work for her. She has also targeted what she wants and figured out steps to get there, then taken those steps. I've learned a lot from m.o. about how to set goals in my own work -- and it's nice to see some of the internal process laid out here. Thanks, Katie!

Loreen Leedy said...

Katie interviewed me for her most recent podcast Eeeek! Ebooks and she makes it look easy (even a glitch with Skype could not stop her for long.) Then she put a mega list of links on her blog to follow up on the people, web sites, videos, and so on that we talked about. I suspect that her brain is organized a tad better than mine, at least(!)