29 May 2008

Building a platform

Quote of the Day:
The secret pleasure of a generous act Is the great mind’s great bribe.
--John Dryden

Now playing: Bryan Ferry - When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful


One of the pieces of advice regularly given in blogs and articles about writing is that, as a writer, one should build a platform.

According to this blog:

If you wannabe a freelance writer or published book author, then you need a platform. Your writing platform helps you promote yourself, sell your writing, and convince editors and publishers that you're publishable.

And it makes perfect sense, because it helps establish one as a marketable brand - which is ultimately what helps sell books. And, no matter what genre you write in, if you write books, you want them to sell.

But, building your platform is hard work.

Suite101.com has this great list with ways for building your platform:

  1. Create your own website with blogs, forums, newsletters, and photos.
  2. Blog or write for an established website.
  3. Figure out what your specialty or niche is, then build your writing platform around that.
  4. Give talks about your specialty in schools, churches, libraries, local groups, etc.
  5. Teach classes or offer workshops.
  6. Offer products or services related to your niche.
  7. Participate in online communities and forums, focusing on building your writing platform.
  8. Sell or donate articles or bits of book chapters to magazines, newspapers, or newsletters.
  9. Conduct focus groups or use surveys to convince publishers that your idea has merit and will sell. This will build your writing platform by providing you with tangible support.
  10. Ask an organization to commit to buying a hundred or so copies of your published book – and include their letter of commitment with your book proposal.

This list was written for non-fiction writers, but most of these activities are also suggested in other lists for fiction writers.

And this is entirely achievable, provided you do not also hold down a full time job or have a life away from your platform. I have found that actively trying to build a platform can severely impact on my writing, because every minute that I spend building that platform is a minute that I am not actually writing.

On the other hand, I am sure one also does not have to participate in every suggested activity for platform building. Having a public blog does go a long way towards it, and there are ways to promote your blog without having to troll forums and annoy strangers with your continual link-spamming.

Even just adding your web address to your signature on forums you would frequent anyway is a good start. Another way is adding your site address to blog aggregators and making use of services like Feedburner.
I have added my blog to Amatomu, which is a South African blog aggregator that also provides rather nice stats on your visits - and, while I do not have millions of visits every day, it has increased the number of eyeballs here.

This does save me a bit of time while slowly building my personal platform, so I can continue my balancing act of being mother, wife, writer and full-time employee.


How do you go about building your platform? And is it really important?


Nocatster said...

This is a really helpful list of ideas for authors, they make a lot of sense. The folks at Brio's commercial printing blog have a post with some more good pointers on How to Sell More Books. I recommend you check it out, it is worth your time.

Vanessa said...

@cator: thank you. Will check it out.

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