Thursday 9th March 2017
Today I went to eat cake but ended up bringing it home.
Last year, myself and a couple of other up and coming writers formed a collective. The idea was to gather every couple of months, update each other on progress and help each other promote our careers. We met in a restaurant that sells the most amazing cake, and so this collective became known as Cake Club.
The important thing about Cake Club was that we all matched each other in ambition and insane work ethic.
Kate Coe has about a bazillion novellas released and just about as many in the works. She also does reviews and editing. Sophie E Tallis is another Grimbold author but her illustration work has taken off and she recently got a map drawing gig with Harper Collins. She’s also currently doing a drawing every day as part of a challenge.
Sophie was ill so tonight Kate & I met to discuss how we are getting on and what we plan to do over the next couple of months. We even took minutes so that we can refer back and ensure we’ve delivered on what we said we would.
I talked about most of the things I’ve already discussed on The Climb. I went into some detail of how uncomfortable I felt starting off but how I’ve become more confident through it. I talked through some things I’ve not discussed here, such as traffic, why it doesn’t matter and how the benefit is two years down the line.
I talked a bit about social media. Twitter is currently the go-to platform for writers (with Tumblr possibly coming in). Market research has shown that each generation has their own social platform of choice and whilst attention does shift the trick to getting new readers is to ensure you’re on the social media platforms of your demographics. For most this isn’t a problem as everyone also seems to end up on Facebook. But, if you’re writing kids books and want to connect with the teen market then Musical.ly and possibly Snapchat are going to serve you better than Facebook. But if you are writing cozy mysteries for retired people, those platforms are probably not worth putting a lot of investment into.
And to make it even more complicated, each platform has their own suited form for content. So for Twitter, it’s a witty remark; for Instagram it’s a decent picture with a caption; for Facebook it’s more long form content.
It’s hard to do well as it’s so complicated and there’s a good argument to be made on whether all that effort is worth the return… but if you don’t try you have no idea.
I’ve really been trying to push Snapchat and Instagram the past few weeks and whilst I seem to be getting traction with Instagram, Snapchat (mainly due to the lack of discovery feature) is proving very difficult.
I also went into the reason WHY I’m stepping up my social media game at this precise moment in my career. I’m toying with the idea of doing a ‘manifesto’ piece for The Climb #50 so I’ll save going into it today. Needless to say… there is a strategy which I explained to Kate.
I went into a big discussion about writers and why they self-censor and how I’m experimenting by trying to be a bit more open about the non-commercial stuff and how there’s an opportunity there.
Kate gave her own updates which were just as long but not my place to discuss here. I suggest checking out her blog for updates.
But then we came to the discussion of how we can help each other. We’ve already discussed some of ideas over Facebook but we took it a stage further tonight, hatching probably just about the craziest idea. What I love about this idea is that despite Kate being quieter and less hi-energy than Sophie and myself, it works for both those approaches. We both think it’s right but need to explain it to Sophie first and see what she thinks. We even have a couple of names.
As you can see, instead of the usual meeting where writers complain about the book they are struggling to write and swap industry gossip, we were actually doing a bit of Biz Dev / strategy. I don’t think a lot of writers do this, but whether you are traditionally published or self-publishing, you are a business at the end of the day and so developing that business strategy isn’t really that crazy a concept.
I think part of the ethos of Cake Club is to try and do it a bit differently. We’re not afraid to fail or experiment with concepts to try and be authors in this social media age. It’s possible that 90% of these ideas won’t work but my gut feeling is that in an age where everything is fighting for attention, writers need to be fighting as well and this will require some innovation.
I came away feeling really pumped because the ideas we were both excited about fit in with our individual strategies and cross-promote wonderfully. As I said to Kate, this was an example of swimming with the current. It just felt so natural. And what I love about working with Kate and Sophie is that these ideas will happen. I have to be honest and say that I meet a lot of writers who talk big but then never follow through (often for legitimate reasons). Cake Club is small for that reason (so that we can be quick and agile rather than trying to be elitist. We also like cake!)
Given that Kate and I are both working on novels at the moment and we need to do some private beta testing first to see if some of the ideas are even feasible, it may be the fall before you see what we discussed today.
The food at the pub, as always, was brilliant but we ended up taking cake home as we were so full.
That meeting ate most of my evening and so between that and day job, time for actual writing has been limited. That’s always disappointing but at least this was due to writing-related activities rather than goofing off watching Netflix or something. The weekend is coming up so I hope to make up for it then.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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