Let the brainstorm begin! Image courtesy of shutterstock

Let the brainstorm begin!
Image courtesy of shutterstock

The Big Reveal

I've concluded, Dear Reader, after considered reflection, that I owe you the truth. Indeed, there is no better way to set off on this journey than with a big reveal:

Though my first StoryApp iTinerary, Beware Madame la Guillotine, won numerous prizes and enjoyed critical acclaim, it has not yet achieved commercial success. (Emphasis on “yet”.)

Why? The reason is due simply to my own fatal flaw: I knew nothing of the importance of marketing before the initial launch of the app.  

And it is precisely this flaw that I intend to confront and overcome -- even befriend -- as I turn the page on the next chapter of my personal, professional and creative adventure.

I welcome you to join me. To wrestle this minotaur together...


Digital Publishing is not a "Build it and They Will Come" Proposition

When I embarked, way back in 2009, on my expedition across the digital divide, I believed I had entered a field of dreams. But publishing in the digital landscape, it turns out, is not a “build it and they will come (read: buy)” proposition.

I didn’t know about branding and positioning then. I didn’t know much about app development either, to be honest. But I put one foot in front of the other, month after month, and figured out what I needed to learn, and do, in order to publish in both the App and iBook Stores.

It was a lot like birthing a baby. I prepared myself only for the delivery, putting little or no thought into how I would feed and diaper the tyke once it was in my arms. Indeed, it wasn’t until July 26, 2011, when Charlotte’s story finally appeared in the App Store, that I said, “Yikes!” (Actually the word I used was much more colorful and best avoided in a professional forum such as this.)

“Now I’ve got to sell this darn thing!” (As you can imagine, I didn’t really use the word “darn” either.)

By then, it was too late. A wet nurse was summoned during those first critical weeks. Thankfully, the baby thrived. But despite the encouragement that came with each new accolade, I am chagrined to admit that the past few years have been a slog.


The Best Life Lessons Are The Valuable Ones

Yet, the experience taught me a valuable lesson:

Those of us attempting to carve a niche in the digital world and to earn a living from our creative endeavors – I’m talking writers, illustrators, even candlestick makers – must be willing to market. And I mean ourselves. Not just our titles and products.

(Emphasis mine.)

If that strikes you as anathema, Dear Reader, I empathize, for so too did it once strike me. But the fact is that no one else is going to market for us -- not publishers, not editors, not anymore.

And, ironically, the more we are willing to play the game, the more likely they are to pick us for their team.


The Good News is: Entrepreneurism is Creative

To survive in the digital world, creative people must think and act like entrepreneurs. We must have an online platform with which to engage a public. And we must be prepared to do this well before we have anything to sell, or even launch.

I needed a platform back in 2011. And this is precisely what I did not have. So when Beware Madame la Guillotine launched, guess what? There were relatively few people out there to relish the news with me. And they did. And I love them for it. But they were not enough to help spread the good word.

(Of course, there were other issues too, like the difficulty of discoverability in the App Store, but we'll leave that topic for a future post.)

As it turns out, though, thinking like an entrepreneur is fun. Time-consuming, I'll admit. But fun. And creative. Every bit as creative as the writing process. For it's just another type of creative process. 


So, Why This New Website & Blog?

A year ago, more or less, I realized that I needed to build an author platform and a following before spending any more time and money developing additional eBooks and apps. (There, I’ve said it. That's why there have been no new TTT&T titles since Beware Madame la Guillotine.)

That’s when I realized that you could have the most brilliant gem of an app in the App Store (like BMLG *wink*cough*wink*), but if no one knows it’s there, it’s not going to do you, or anyone else, any favors.

That's when I realized that the website I'd built for Time Traveler Tours was working very hard to sell a $5 product while all that I had learned and accomplished in the process of producing it was buried in a pull down menu.

That's when I realized -- and forgive me the use of contemporary internet parlance here -- that I needed...

(sucking in breath and holding it)

...Well... that I needed to brand me.


A New Journey Begins...

So, to borrow a favorite cliché from my former musician’s tool kit, I went back into the woodshed and I reworked my chops. The result: This brand new shiny website and blog. My next chapter.

The rest, we'll just say, is backstory.

With this new site, I officially hang my digital shingle, once and for all.

With this new site, I embark on a journey to...

  • Share with you, through blog posts, interviews, reviews and video tutorials, the benefit of all that I, and others like me, have learned through first-hand experience about trans-media storytelling and publishing in a digital world;

  • Offer you the opportunity to share your stories and insights so that I, and others like you, might learn from your lessons and respond to your comments and questions;

  • Initiate a helpful working dialogue for all.


Let's Do This Thing!

So, eager converts and reluctant digital warriors, I invite you to cross the threshold into my online community education center and store. Consider me a mentor in your personal quest. Use the information herein to help set you on your digital way, efficiently and effectively, whether you are building your first website or launching your next digital project.

Those of us attempting to carve a niche in the digital world and to earn a living from our creative endeavors – I’m talking writers, illustrators, even candlestick makers – must be willing to market. And I mean ourselves. Not just our titles and products.
— Sarah Towle

So keen am I to help you avoid the missteps I've taken and the mistakes I've made that if I don’t have the advice, tools, strategies and services you need right here, then I will find them. This is my promise to you.

And in return, I hope you won’t mind if I promote my own projects from time to time, when the opportunity arises and is warranted. 

May all our adventures in the digital landscape be fruitful.

Please add a comment with your thoughts and/or questions.
Let’s make history together!