A writing platform: what is it and why do I need one?

I’ve been hearing the terms “writing platform” and “writer’s platform” thrown around a lot lately.Which led me to a question:  what the hay is that?

According to Robert Lee Brewer, Editor at WritersMarket.com,

“A writing platform is basically a writer’s reach to their target audience on a specific subject or topic.”

So, in essence, what we’re talking about here is a social media platform.

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

The above WrtiersMarket.com article discusses the importance of getting your name out there via Facebook, Twitter, blogging and LinkedIn.  For non-fic writers, that involves showing your knowledge on your specific topic.  For a fiction writer, that could entail establishing yourself in a chosen genre, or just creating your voice.

This is similar to the “book tour” of ye olde days, where the writer would visit various bookstores across the country (or world), sign books, read from their latest work and just be out there to meet the fans and establish relationships.  And while this practice is still common, our world has become so much more accessible through online resources.  Now, a writer can establish a platform quickly and easily, and start connecting with a fan base (or potential fan base) right away.

Based on my research, I’ve created a step-by-step system to get me (and you!) started:

1)      Create your pen name.  If your writer’s platform is effective, you could become a household name. Yay!  So first you have to choose what you want that name to be.  Think of this as your brand name.  A brand (in any industry) solidifies customer loyalty and delivers a clear message about the product.  For instance, when you hear the name Jane Austen, you already know what “brand” you’re in for, even before you start reading.

2)      Get online.  Take your brand to the net and test it out.  If you write non-fiction, then start a blog about your chosen topic.  If you write fiction, start publishing short stories in online literary magazines.  This is a great way to establish yourself and your voice.

3)      Link to yourself.  Once you get your work out there, you need a central hub to link it to.  If you don’t already have a website or blog, start one now.  You can link to your work online and when you query agents, you can direct them to your website so they can see who you are and if you are serious about this business.  (Origninally, I started this blog as  learning process – to help teach myself the business of publishing.  But perhaps, there is an added benefit to this site…whadyaknow?)

4)      Advertise.  Once you get your work out there, you want to spread the word.  This is where social media sites like Facebook and Twitter come into play.  Tweet about your newest story, available at thiswebsite.com.  Tell your Facebook friends (about 20% of which are actual friends) to check out your newest blog post.  Get the word out there and get some traffic.  Lead people to your brand.

5)      Network.  There are several writing communities out there.  Log on and read the work of others, comment if you feel moved, and make friends.  There are tons of people going through the same thing, trying to get published and reaching out for guidance (like me!).  This is your chance to make a writer friend (again, maybe me?) who could serve as a peer editor.  The more active you are in these writing communities (genuinely, though, don’t comment with imitation praise – remember, you are establishing a voice, so be true to yourself), the more visible your “brand” becomes.

Per Brewer,

“Whether you write books or freelance for magazines, building a writer platform is the way to go in the new reality of publishing and media.”

Now, go forth and get famous, will ya?

Advertisements
Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. I would add, if you’re going to write non-fiction (I’ve published two books, so far) that you need subject matter expertise as part of this platform — why you? why now? what have you specifically got to say that someone else does not?

    Again, for NF, you’ve also got to get some clips of work published in other areas — high-visibility blogs, newspapers, magazines. You have to show you’ve got a track record of producing quality work for demanding editors and readers.

    The quickest way to describe platform is “name recognition.”

    Reply
  2. So write, promote, get famous? That sounds easy! Ha ha ha ha ha….

    Reply
  3. Anne Kathryn Smith

     /  July 13, 2012

    Great article! I like your “brand” spin on the platform, taking a marketing approach. I see platforming as getting yourself known with statistical figures that you can cite, like a follower count. If you like, you can check out my take on building a writer’s platform: http://anneksmith.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/the-benefits-of-a-platform/

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: