A few years ago, well... let me rephrase that. Many, many years ago, I decided I wanted to write a book. I had a great idea. Unique, fresh, mysterious; to me, it was the perfect way to start my writer's career.
I spent, also many years, creating characters, plots, and twists, and a few months writing everything down. It also took several months to do editing (thanks Coco!). This book was my baby. Sweat and tears (not really tears, but lots of sweat, yes) and many hours of insomnia were involved in putting together my masterpiece.
After I had, what I thought was the finished product, I proceeded to do some research as far as publishing. Self-publishing vs traditional publishing, agent vs publishing directly, publishing boutiques, how to spot a fake agent, how to write a query letter, etc. Believe me, I did my homework on that one! But, despite of all those hours of research and learning, I felt like I was missing something.
I learned that in today's market, author involvement is crucial for a successful career. It's not just the fact that you find an agent and wait for them to sell your book. You, as an author, must be involved with your audience and potential readers. Think about it. There's nothing cooler (major nerd-girl issue here) than getting a tweet reply or a Facebook like from your favorite writer, or actor, or famous person. Nothing beats that (don't quote me on this one).
WHAT IS A WRITER'S PLATFORM?
Putting it in simple terms, a platform is somewhere where you can stand. A writer's platform is where you stand as a writer. In a technology driven world, where the internet rules our lives, this platform is digital and you must build it.
So, I slowly realized that in order for me to find the perfect agent, the perfect publisher, the perfect deal, not only my book needed to be superb - and honestly it's still a work in progress- but also, I needed to build my audience. I needed to find a way to create a fan-based group, and network with other authors. I knew I needed to learn more from others before I could even imagine publishing my book.
HOW TO START
I'm going to be honest with you. Starting is very easy, but you MUST maintain your enthusiasm and your will to make it happen. It's not just a matter of opening hundreds of social media accounts, but it's a question of interacting, building bridges, meeting people, attending events, blogging, taking advantage of technology. You can't gather hundreds of fans if you don't interact. You can't possibly assume people want to read your work, if they have no idea who you are. The beauty of building a platform is that, even if you have NEVER published something before, little by little your followers will start getting to know you, and eventually they'll be willing to read, share, and cherish your stories.
So here are some ideas on how to start:
OPEN A TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, AND FACEBOOK ACCOUNT
Choose the same username across all social media accounts to create uniformity. Like, comment, and follow other authors, artists, and community leaders. Share stories related to writing or to the subjects you are going to write about. And this is important: do not share personal opinions about controversial topics, politics or religion, UNLESS that is the topic of your target audience and work. Also, DO NOT abandon your accounts after a few weeks. Post something at least two- three times a week (minimum)... or several times a day for twitter. Research how to use hashtags! They are your best friends when using social media!!
CREATE A BLOG PAGE
Blog, blog, blog blog. I can't say this enough. If you want people to get to know your style, they need to be reading something you write. If you are a writer, blogging shouldn't be a hassle. Writing is what you love, right? You can write about what inspires you, or you can tell your fans short stories, or things that happened to you throughout the day. Blog with a pseudo-name, or with your real name. Either way, blogging is writing, and the more you write, the better you become at it. You don't have to spend lots of money by buying your own domain (but if you can afford it, go for it!). I like blogger, or world-press - they both have free versions and are easy to work with as well and very customizable.
NETWORK WITH OTHER AUTHORS
Regardless of where you live, I guarantee you that there are successful, published authors living in a city near you. Do some research about the authors in your area. Participate in book signings, conferences, or simply reach out to them through Facebook, email, or other social media platforms. Many writers will be glad to speak to you and give your advice, tips, or let you pick their brain.
Whatever route you choose to get your name out there, do it consistently and be motivated to continue, despite the ups and downs that the road will bring you. My first book hasn't been published yet. Instead, I'm gathering stories of a different genre into a different project. I'm still building my audience, and continuing to work on my platform. It takes a while, but consistency and willingness will get you there.
As always, happy writing!
Do you have other tips or ideas on how to build your writer's platform? Share them with us!