Building a Platform on Authory

It’s been one year since Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures launched, and I have another book on the way. (More to come about The Glen Eyrie Story). With three books and several magazine articles under my belt, it’s time to solidify my author platform.

I recently came across an online portfolio for journalists called Authory. This service will automatically back up articles published online, your work will always be available to readers. That feature alone persuaded me to sign up for a free trial. I used to write for a local magazine called The Colorado Collective and had several pieces in their online and print editions. On the Writing page of this website, I carefully linked to each of my articles on their site. Unfortunately, Colorado Collective folded last year and their website is no longer operational. My readers no longer had a way to access my work. As a freelance journalist, it’s important that I can quickly direct interested parties to my stories, and when their site went down I lost an important part of my online portfolio. Authory will prevent this from happening to me again. As long as I keep using Authory, they will automatically import all of my articles from any publication that I write for and back them up on their own website. If another publication goes under, I’ll have a place where my readers can access my work.

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Signing up for Authory was easy and quick. I entered my name, the bylines that I write under, and the websites that carry my stories. Two days later, they had built my portfolio site. They found my articles for Springs Magazine quickly and arranged them on my personal Authory page. I can also manually add my articles that were in the print edition of Colorado Collective. 

If you want an online portfolio and have zero experience with web design, Authory is an excellent option. They do all of the back end work to build your website and you don’t have to lift a finger, except to do add your own profile picture and choose your background image.  I have a love/hate relationship with both Wix and WordPress (the platforms that I use for Susan Fletcher Creative and Adventures in History respectively) and loath doing my own web design.  I can do web design work… but I kind of hate it. Having Authory build a portfolio for me saved me hours of frustrating work with both Wix and WordPress.   Once Authory had my site ready, I uploaded a profile picture, wrote a short bio, and added my contact information. The process was quick and painless.

I’ve been using Authory for two weeks and so far I like it very much. Eric Hauch, the founder and CEO of Authory, has been extremely helpful and responsive to the questions that I had about the site, and he’s been checking up on me to make sure that everything is working correctly.  Having a human connection to a platform that I’m using is a rare gem in the faceless world of the internet. 

Lastly, the site allows me to create an Email list, and I plan on writing a newsletter soon to announce the release of The Glen Eyrie Story. Check out my site here. If you’d like to sign up for a free trial of Authory for ONE MONTH, you can use the invite code authory.com/SusanFletcher/invite?key=rGKGv.

One Year Book Birthday (Or, Launching a Book During a Pandemic)

This weekend marks one year since the release of my book Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures on May 15, 2020. Earlier this week, I was thrilled to learn that my book is a finalist for a Colorado Authors League Award of Excellence. In honor of my book birthday and my first time being a finalist for a writing award, I baked a chocolate cake and homemade buttercream frosting. 

Releasing a book in the middle of a global pandemic was not how I had envisioned things going when I was writing the book from 2018-2019, but I tried my best to make the most of my opportunities this year. When I was sequestered in my home office doing the tedious work of indexing over Christmas break 2019, I imagined a grand book launch party. The party would be at the Modbo and SPQR Art Galleries in Colorado Springs. All of my artist and writer friends would be there, we’d have a live band, and the happy crowd would overflow into the Arts Alley.

Here’s what happened instead. Last spring, my publishing team at Rowman and Littlefield was furloughed due to the COVID restrictions in New York, so I wasn’t sure if my book was still on schedule to be released in May as planned. Their team wasn’t allowed to check Email or phone messages during the furlough, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I prayed things through and made peace with the fact that the launch might be delayed indefinitely. On May 1, a delivery driver dropped off a mysterious brown box on my front porch. I looked at the shipping label, and my heart started pounding. It was from Rowman and Littlefield! Inside were six beautiful copies of Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures

Two weeks later, on May 15, my book was officially released. I woke up early that day and grabbed my phone off the nightstand to check my Amazon listing. I was stunned to see an orange label underneath the title that read “#1 New Release in Museum Industry.” I took screenshots of the Amazon Hot New Releases page that featured my book in the top spot in its category and texted the pictures to my mom and best friends. It was exciting enough to have my first solo book in print at last, but premiering at number one…that was an honor that I had never dreamt of attaining.

Because my editorial team was on furlough when my book launched, I didn’t know that my work had received delightfully unexpected attention from the publishing world until months later, in the fall of 2020. When their team went back to work in September, the R&L marketing department let me know that Exploring Childhood and Play was picked for Booklist’sTop Ten Sports Books of 2019-2020. I also discovered that my book had earned a cherished starred review on Booklist and that they had featured me in their Best New Books section in early May. I’m still pinching myself.

Because the bookstores around the country were closed due to COVID, I got creative in my marketing approach. I decided to focus on media interviews and virtual book talks. My friend and fellow historian John Fea asked me to be on his podcast The Way of Improvement Leads Home. He and I chatted about the origins of the board game Candyland during the polio epidemic of the 1950s. Keith Simon of classical music KCME (88.7 in Colorado Springs) interviewed me for his Sunday afternoon program, The Culture Zone. In August, the producer of the Constant Wonder show on BYU radio contacted me out of the blue and asked me to be a guest on their program. I enjoyed talking with host Marcus Smith about how childhood became a distinct phase of life in the nineteenth century. Because I was still hard-core self-isolating throughout the summer last year, I loved connecting with these interviewers and having someone to talk to. (Ah, remember the long days of quarantine?)

As a public historian for The Navigator and Glen Eyrie in my day job, I’m used to giving community programs about local history. I leveraged my existing connections in the museum field to create virtual author talks for my book. A few weeks ago, I presented a lunch and learn program about Barbie for the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. I miss doing events in person, but virtual talks can attract a national and global audience. In March, I gave a Zoom program for my friends at the Lippitt House Museum in Rhode Island. One of my literary-agent friends hosted a program for me last summer that brought in viewers from South America, Asia, and Europe.
As I write this post, life in Colorado is transitioning into something that looks akin to life before the pandemic. When our local bookstores can host events again, I would love to have a few in-person book signings. I also hope to fill my calendar with in-person and virtual author talks. If you’d like to host me for an event, or if you’d like to interview me, please go to my website at SusanFletcherCreative.com and fill in the contact form.