By Ekta R. Garg
Genre: Nonfiction/social media, computer literacy for writers
Release date: August 1, 2017
Rated: Borrow it
As the publishing landscape continues to change, authors are expected to take charge—or, at the very least, an incredibly proactive role—of their online platform and social media presence. A plethora of advice, suggestions, and other information can overwhelm even the most seasoned authors. Author and freelance editor Judy L. Mohr offers her own experiences in a sincere effort to help writers and mostly succeeds in parsing the most popular online outlets in her book Hidden Traps: A Writer’s Guide to Protecting Your Online Platform.
Mohr opens her book with some common-sense thoughts: a writer’s platform does not consist solely of their social media outlets; every writer’s platform will look somewhat different; the most successful platform will include a mix of online and offline activities; and the key is to work hard but have fun. The first paragraph, in fact, provides a succinct summary of advice found in many other hard copy and online resources. The chapters that follow take authors through each element of an online presence, such as separating personal and business email addresses and whether a writer should blog regularly or not (the answer: it depends, in large part, on what the writer wants to accomplish by blogging on a consistent schedule.)
In many places, Mohr’s practical advice will resonate with authors. Creating a separate email address for newsletters and subscriptions to blogs and websites makes a lot of sense. So does dividing a personal Facebook profile and a public author page on the site. Mohr does a great job offering charts and screen shots to illustrate her ideas and to share what she’s done with her own online platform.
Some of the less successful portions of the book come in the places where Mohr gets into technical discussions. In Chapter 3, “Email Lists or Not”, Mohr gets a little lost in the weeds with her enthusiasm about building and maintaining an email list. She shares information that will help writers, no doubt, but it comes at a fast rate and with an assumption of basic email list building knowledge. Writers new to the entire world of publishing and building their platforms may get overwhelmed by the pace.
Other places of the book, too, either slow down or get unnecessarily complicated by technical explanations. Mohr often cites her science background in talking about her publication experiences, and like any true scientist eager to share the minutia she tends to get a little carried away with complicated concepts and terms. It would have helped if she had started the more technical sections with a quick tutorial—just a few paragraphs would have worked—about upcoming strategies and tools and then get into the details.
Most authors will appreciate Mohr’s intent, no doubt, and she does offer useful information and advice. It may just take writers a little longer to work through the manual than they might have initially anticipated from first impressions of the book. I recommend readers Borrow Hidden Traps by Judy L. Mohr.
(I received a copy of this book from the author with the understanding that I would review it honestly.)