I faced new challenges this summer.
Before she agreed to sign me as a client, my new literary agent Stephany Evans told me quite frankly that I needed to revitalize my "platform."
Book authors, particularly non-celebrity non-fiction writers, need to have platforms that demonstrate an ability to connect with the reading public. This might mean having public speaking skills and experience or a newspaper column or frequent articles in national magazines. It can include blogging or podcasting or creating You Tube videos. It means having the energy and imagination to reach out in many ways to potential readers and a willingness to take the initiative in promoting one's books at bookstore signings and special events as well as via media contacts.
I knew Stephany was right. My platform needed a major overhaul. Yet part of me wanted to whine "But I just want to write!"
That's not how it is these days.
Stephany suggested that I check out media consultants and she highly recommended that June Clark (www.gettheremedia.com) should be among those.
When I had finished checking possible media experts, June was the standout. I met with both June and Stephany when I was in New York for the Davy Jones tribute in early summer. Their encouragement was energizing. And when June and I started working together in early July on my platform overhaul, things started moving even faster.
June mapped out my areas of expertise and strengths along with a plan to utilize all of my skills and to develop some new ones as well. As she built a totally new interactive website, she made numerous suggestions that kept me busy all summer.
The new website: http://www.drkathymccoy.com
She pushed me to learn all I could about major social media and start using them. I'm working on getting comfortable with Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter.
She insisted that I become active with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and make myself available for interviews in areas of my expertise. About a dozen reporters took me up on my offers to help, including some from U.S. News and World Report, Today.com and CBS News.
I reactivated my California license as a psychotherapist -- finding that I had missed doing therapy and that being an active therapist rather than a retired one added vitality to my platform. After completing the required 36 units of continuing education to reactivate my license, I signed up to do virtual therapy for California clients via VirtualTherapyConnect.com.
VirtualTherapyConnect unique URL:
I wrote a free mini e-book "Seven Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Adult Child", available for the asking in PDF form on the home page of my new website.
I took a six-week class in Podcasting (from Media Bistro taught by the wonderful Maurice Cherry) so that I could link a podcast with this blog. The "Living Fully with Dr. Kathy McCoy" podcast is now available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, InTune and on my new website as well. Initially, the podcast is featuring audio versions of some of my blog posts most popular with readers, but eventually there will be all-new topics covered. A new episode appears each Monday and can be found on the following links.
Looking back on this busy summer, I'm amazed and delighted.
At the beginning, I felt overwhelmed and fearful of learning new technology. I whined about Twitter (even after a kind tutorial from my social media savvy next door neighbor Judith). I was afraid no one from HARO would want to talk with me. I worried over my weekly homework for the Podcasting class. I dreaded having new professional pictures taken.
But with continuing encouragement from June and Stephany, I learned some new skills and took some risks and ventured outside my comfort zone.
And it feels good! Not just to have a new platform, but to learn, to grow and to have this lead to new experiences -- like a conversation I had with a 20-year-old male medical assistant/aspiring rock singer in my doctor's office recently.
I told him I was trying to stay mentally sharp by mastering Audacity, a recording software. His face brightened. "No way!! Really???" he said, looking at me with new interest. "You're recording with Audacity??? My band and I use that! It's so cool that you're learning it, too!" I asked him to explain some technicalities to me and he happily did so.
My doctor -- Scott Finkbeiner -- came in the room while we were talking tech and he smiled broadly. "That's what I love to see!" he said. "Keep learning, keep engaging with life! That's a prescription for good health!"
Dr. Finkbeiner said that the patients who worry him are those who sit around all day watching television and focusing on their aches and pains - rather than exploring new ideas, new skills and new ways to connect with others.
In the wake of all these learning experiences, I feel hope. I feel energized. I feel elated to be learning something new, to be conquering my fears and chipping away at my ongoing tech phobia and to be embracing, little by little, more of the wonders of 21st century technology!