Why a Writing Platform is a Must: 13 Ways to Build Yours
Having a writing platform means that you have an
audience, and that you have some vehicle in place to reach that audience
when you have books to sell. This platform is as
important to those not yet published as it is to established writers.
Before an agent or publisher considers signing you, he or she
will do a Google search on your name to see how often it comes up.
Publishers can't afford to do all
your promotion for you. They want some assurance that you will be able
to help create a buzz about your book. They want you to help sell your
With a good manuscript, the larger your Internet presence, the
better your chances of getting signed. The steps below will help you
create the writing platform you need.
Attend Literary Readings and Book Launches. Get
to know the writers in your community. Writers buy books and support
other writers in their effort
to create a writing platform. You want to be included on mailing lists
and invited to literary events and parties. The contacts you make at
these events will be
invaluable. Many writers already have a list of contacts. Often they
will send information about your book to those on their list.
Do public readings of your work. Reading series
exist in almost every town or city. Your local library will often know
who organizes them. Contact
the organizer and ask how you can be included. You do not have to be
published to read. Unpublished writers often "open" for published ones,
and the purpose of some
readings is to give exposure to unknown writers. If no reading series
exists in your area, consider starting one. Readings are often
publicized on the Internet through the
library or organizing individual. The attention you receive here may
strengthen your writing platform.
Start a blog or website about your writing or a special interest. If you are unpublished, post some of your work on the Internet and give readers an opportunity to provide feedback. If
you're already published, showcase your books and any services you provide.
Create new content for your website on a regular basis.
Your goal is to increase traffic and have visitors return. You want
your site to be "sticky,"
to interest people so they will stay on it long enough to get interested
in you, and so they will bookmark it or recommend it to friends.
Provide useful information and services for
readers or other writers. Promote your availability as a speaker.
Teach others. Once you have made a name for
yourself as a writer, offer courses and teach others what you have
learned. Be generous with your
knowledge and your time and you will make friends and find followers to
strengthen your writing platform. Promote your courses where they will
get the most exposure, on
the local library site, on your website and the websites of others, and
in online community lists. If you are not yet published, offer courses
for something you know a lot
about. Keep track of the people you meet. They are all potential book
buyers when your first book is published.
Write articles for popular websites or print sources.
Unless you already have some success as a writer, you won't be paid for
these articles. You
trade them for publicity, so be sure that your
name and website address is at the bottom of the article. For online
sources, insist that the link is active, so readers need only click on
it to contact you or learn
more about you. If you're already published, you will be paid if you
approach paying sources. Try to keep you name visible wherever you can.
Advertise on other websites. Many high traffic
websites charge only $20 or $30 a month for an advertisement that links
to your website. Experiment
to learn which ads are most effective in driving traffic to your site.
In my experience, ads are not as effective as articles for raising
Offer a newsletter on your website. Provide
visitors the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter. A newsletter
allows you to stay in contact
with your visitors and keep your email list current. It is also extra
work, so it is important to plan in advance what you will include in the
newsletter each month.
If you're certain you can maintain regular distribution, this is a good
way to build a list of people who will be happy to learn about a
forthcoming book or public
appearance. Even if you have little other exposure, a list of several
thousand will be considered a strong writing platform.
Give a business card to everyone you meet. Your
business card should have the cover image of your book on the front and
your website and email
address on the back, which encourages individuals to visit your website
and opt in to your newsletter. Leave small stacks of cards in places of
business and on bulletin
boards to encourage strangers to take them and pass them on.
Moderate free teleconferences online. Prepare a
one-hour PowerPoint presentation that provides useful or entertaining
information about your area
of specialty and offer the teleconference
to your existing contact list. If you have no list, use social
bookmarking sites to attract participants. Before the call, provide
participants with the telephone number,
web address, and password. WebEx, ReadyTalk, and others offer convenient
services for about $49 a month, with free trials.
Create short video presentations. Use your computer video capabilities or have a friend videotape you as you read from your book or share partial
information from your courses. Post these videos on social networking sites and on video sites such as YouTube, Viddler, MetaCafe, etc. Be
sure to include a line of text that sends viewers to your website.
Write a Readers' Guide for your book. If you've
written a novel, publishers will sometimes have you create a readers'
guide before your book
comes out. They make this available to book clubs on their website. You
should make it available on your website as well. Alternatively, you can
create a slightly
different one for visitors to download from your site. If you write
non-fiction, consider creating a companion booklet of a few pages to
give to readers or offer to
those who sign up for your newsletter.
Once you have a book to sell, hire your own publicist
and find promotional opportunities wherever you can. Small presses
can't afford to do much publicity
for their authors, and larger publishers are
spending less and less. If you're fortunate, your publisher will give
your book a splash when it first comes out, but the rest will be up to
you. You want to keep your name and your books
visible so you slowly build a following. This does not happen over
night; you build your platform one small piece at a time.
Gone are the days when a writer could write and leave promotional
concerns to the publisher. Much more than that is expected of us now.
Use the steps above to create
a writing platform before you need one, and once you're published keep
the momentum going.
Don't pad your list with people ambivalent about being on it, or
worse, with people who never agreed to let you contact them.
Instead, make your list "opt-in only," and aim to build a following of
at least 5000 fans or interested contacts. Your agent and publisher will
love you for it.