Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Writerly Tip ~ Platform

Whether you are traditionally published or self published you need to build a platform. When I first heard this I went, "Huh? What the devil is a platform?"

I'm not sure when or how the word "platform" was used in regards to writers, but it was a new item I had to have when looking for an agent, publisher, or selling my novels. When I searched, it was basically a sales tool to make readers aware of you as a published author. It's like standing on a platform to shout out to the world, "This is who I am and this is what I'm doing."

In the book, Escape from Second Eden I describe a scene of street vendors hawking their wares, and in real life we just witnessed political campaigns for the US presidency. It's the same thing. How are you going to publicize your book and yourself to the world.

It's hard to believe how much publishing has changed in the last three decades. I've witnessed the changes and none to happily. It isn't enough that you write a perfect story to get published. You now have to get your own name out there, and publishers and agents want to know how you are going to do this.

Okay, so I have the upper hand compared to Jane Doe Author, I have a business and marketing degrees, and experience. I was once told that I could sell salt to a man in a dingy in the middle of the ocean. High praise indeed, but it is some thing most writers lack. They have no idea how to sell themselves...no not prostitution, but as an author of a fabulous story.

Personally, I prefer the soft sell. Something that sells 24/7 with little or no monitoring. After all, I'm a writer not a marketer (anymore sort of).

How to build a Platform:
  • Write a blog and gather followers. Now, if you read various agent blogs they will say several thousand hits per day is optimum. But honestly, do any of us have that who are not big name authors? Grow a blog is a better term. It will start small and then grow it. To get blog readers you have to read AND comment on other people's blog.
  • Website. If you haven't gathered followers elsewhere, this is a dime a dozen prospect. Who are you? I initially started with a website that averaged two hits per week. Running a website is a fairly expensive proposition a blog is free.
  • Join a writer's group. Some have upload ability to hone your craft so you can publish or shop an excellent story. You can also advertise your book in the process.
  • Join a reading club. Make new friends and they could become your biggest fans. Everyone likes to say, "I know her." 
  • Facebook- have a personal Facebook account set up a page as your author's page. Keep this strictly for being an author...no games. Gather likes from you friends on Facebook to start. You will need twenty-five likes to keep the page. Advertise your writing challenges and books here. Mine are  Jolee Morriss and J. L. Murphey
  • Set up a Twitter account. For me I follow industry news, some authors, specific sites for zombies, business, espionage, womens fiction, paranormal, horror, and survivalist enthusiasts. My twitter addy is @JoMurphey.
  • GoodReads is a fabulous way to connects with writers and readers. Join a group of readers in whatever genre you write. Friend other members and make an authors site. Mine is here.
  • LinkedIn is another valuable resource for writers and readers. Mine is here.
  • MySpace. I know, I know MySpace is dead. But if you had connections there they might still be around.
  • If you self publish put your contact links in how to stalk you in the back of the book and as an e-mail signature.
  • Speakers Bureau. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce. Offer your services to speak to local clubs about your book or the writing progress.
  • Get a library card. Speak to your local librarian. All promote local authors.
  • Get to know bookstores in a 50-mile or 100 miles radius of your home. Not only the big named stores but the little independent ones. If you self publish the independent ones will let you do book signings there.
  • Once you are published send out press releases to every newspaper in 100-mile radius of home...it's still local news.
  • Make a book trailer or have someone make it for you. Remember this is a 24/7 no monitoring sales tool.
 These are just a few to get you started. Do as little or as much as you can handle. None of it has to be monitored 24/7. But the more you participate the more you'll gain in a following. For me most times, it's an e-mail before I go into these places. I'm sorry to say it, but my livelihood is writing not chatting. Look at it an essential part of the puzzle in getting published and being successful at it.

So how many things have you done even if you haven't published your book yet?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

2 comments:

Charlotte Rains Dixon said...

This is a helpful rundown of various aspects of the author's platform. I've got lots of pieces in place for my novel coming out in February, but there's always more to do!

J.L. Murphey said...

Yes, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Promotion and marketing your book is even more important even if you are traditionally published unless you are in the top 1% of standard publishers.

WTG you!