This week we’ll talk about another topic from the writer’s conference I went to. Chuck Sambuchino of former Writer’s Digest fame talked to us about platforms.
What is platform? It’s your visibility in the market. Your influence and reach. The channels through which you speak, like a Facebook page, Twitter, or blog.
Elements of platform. It’s important to keep in mind that one successful thing is better than a bunch of small attempts. If your Facebook page is really working for you, continue with that rather than start ten attempts to build your platform that have little visibility. Elements include a website or blog of impressive size, an e-newsletter/mailing list of impressive size, article or column writing, guest contributions to successful websites or blogs, a track record of strong book sales, individuals of influence you know, public speaking appearances, an impressive social media presence, membership to an organization, recurring media appearances (TV, radio, online), and free books.
When is platform necessary? For nonfiction, always. You need to have a strong platform and social media presence to prove you have an audience for the book you are proposing. For memoir the answer is sometimes. You see more celebrity memoirs because they already have the people interested in hearing their stories. For fiction, platform is not necessary, but an added bonus. You don’t need a platform to get an agent or publisher when you’re writing fiction, but a bigger platform means more money and sales, so it’s a good thing to work on before you get published. And it can be a good bonus when you have an impressive platform when you’re looking for an agent. But your fiction should come first. Work on your platform on those days you just can’t write. And it’s all about the slow growth. Keep at it and keep your numbers growing. Self-published books, it’s important to translate into sales.
Important principles. It is in giving that we receive. You make content for others, not yourself. The more difficult the content is to produce, the more valuable it is. Create the content others would look for. Also, you don’t have to go it alone. If there is a successful blog, ask to create a guest post for it. If there’s a successful website, ask to become a contributor. If you want to start a blog, start it with several others and create content together. It’s less work for you but gets your name out there. Learn from what works. If someone is doing something that works, copy it. Start small and start early. Don’t wait until right when you want to publish. You should start building your platform yesterday. Have a plan, but analyze and evolve. Don’t doggedly stick to a plan that isn’t working. Always keep adapting. Direct people to your blog using social media. Incentivize people to click through. Use SEO effectively, be specific in your titles. Be open, likeable, and relatable. You’ll find your audience if you are. Be yourself. Be known as an authority for your chosen topic. Have a focus.
Don’t write a blog about your personal writing journey. There’s hundreds of them online, even more abandoned ones. And why would a stranger be interested in your journey when you aren’t published or know the only way to be published (there are many paths). Is your life really that interesting that hundreds or thousands of strangers will want to read your blog? Write about a topic related to your book or what you are most interested in. You start a blog to last, so you need something you’ll be able to write about for years and years to come and still be engaged in the topic. Be an authority in the topic you chose and make it interesting.
These are some tips for how to build and grow your platform. Get started with it as soon as possible and constantly evolve. What are your best tips for platforms? Share below and happy writing.