Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Platform Building

What is a platform?
There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth since the days when writers just wrote. We can no longer stay in our artistic dream dimensions to weave genius into our words. We have to step out from our creative cocoons and tell the world we have arrived. So, what is a platform? It’s all the relationships we form and all the things we do to announce our presence to the world.

Why do we need it?
We need a platform because the hard reality is we must prove to publishers our work will sell. We need to show them we have the know-how, the connections, and the motivation and drive to do what it takes to sell a book. And we need to do it before we start to query. The sooner the better because it takes time to develop relationships.

How do we build it?
There are many ways to build a platform. A popular, effective, and inexpensive way is to plunge into social media. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and forums are all free, fun, and informative. The writing community is a generous one, full of wonderful people willing to help each other out. The main thing we need to remember, though, is that social media is about the relationships. This means the benefits of the connections should run both ways. Give back. Be generous. Offer people help, advice, encouragement. If you promote other people’s work as much as you promote your own, then it will become a rewarding experience.

Another way of building relationships and finding connections is to get involved. Join your local writing group, attend writer’s conferences, offer to teach writing or take part in speaking engagements. I’ll be attending the Sydney Writer’s Festival in May. Send me an email if you’ll be in the area for it.

How have you built your platform? When did you start? How important do you think it is?

Note: This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. To learn more about the challenge click the image on my sidebar.

Reminder: Please vote for my blog here. I’ve entered it into the bonus People’s Choice Award as part of the Sydney Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs Award 2011. My blog is listed under W.I.P It: A Writer’s Journey -- Lynda Young.


Author Joshua Hoyt said...

I have just begun building my platform through my blog. I agree that the writing community is so wonderful. I have met some wonderful people while blogging.

Emily Rose said...

I've never heard of this, but thanks for enlightening me! This is certainly important to a writer.

Deborah Walker said...

The good thing about being a short story writer is that you don't have to have a platform (I think).

I do it, because it's fun.

Victoria Dixon said...

Hi, Lynda! This ties into a post I'm about to make. Good timing. :) Good luck on the Blog Award. I'll check in over there next.

Sarah said...

I blog and Twitter and am slowly working on this. I do think it's important to work on because it takes awhile to build for most people, but there are times when it takes away from actual writing time, and that concerns me. Writing is, after all, the only reason I'm working on building the platform!

Team Oyeniyi said...

I have pictures of that some bridge! I am sure it is the same one. Sans water, however.

I'm learning about platforms. I haven't convinced myself I am a writer - that wasn't my intention originally. I seem to be being "developed" by my readership, if that makes any sense.

I'm learning.....

DEZMOND said...

ah, I've just opened an official HOLLYWOOD SPY page over at Facebook and thus I've completed my social networks platform :) Hope you will like my page over at Facebook, you have the link in my left sidebar :)

anthony stemke said...

Myself and the education tipster agree, building a platform is indeed important. Thank You.

shelly said...

Great informative blog. Thanks for sharing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I started a year and a half ago. Still not sure of my 'platform,' but I've enjoyed making friends online.

Old Kitty said...

Good luck to all you serious determined and very ambitious writers building your platforms a la social networking!!!

Have I built a platform? I doubt it very much - LOL!

When did I start? I started my blog in Jan 2010!

How important to I think it is? For me, the blog is very important, personally. It kept me sane and gives me valuable help and information. I started my blog when my previous cat was very ill and I felt very alone and needed more information about her condition and how to cope with it. I found my kitty community and they continue to be my comfort blanket! I also realised that I still wanted to write stories and so rely on the writing blogging community for support and handy links and tips!

Take care

Lindsay Buroker said...

I'm not that big on social media (though I do "tweet" every day), but I enjoy blogging.

I've gotten to know quite a few authors, and I've gotten my name out there a bit, by interviewing other indies on my e-publishing blog.

For my Kindle Geeks blog (the one this profile is attached to), I try more to attract my "target audience"--folks who enjoy fantasy and science fiction (the stuff I write!).

Unknown said...

I started with a writing group and then plunged into blogging. I didn't know the ins and outs but I think I'm getting the hang of it now. I agree that most writers would prefer to just write and skip the marketing but we all know the publishing scene is changing and more and more marketing is thrown on the writer's shoulders.

Denise Covey said...

Hi lynda. Good post. Yeah, wouldn't it be great without all the marketing hoo ha. All the best winning the best Oz blog. I'm not in it so you've got a chance, hoot hoot.


L'Aussies Travel A-Z Challenge O is for Outback

Raquel Byrnes said...

Weeping and gnashing of teeth...great and pretty accurate description of a writer facing social media platform building. How you enjoy the conference!
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Lydia Kang said...

I'm trying to build my platform, but I'm trying not to let my platform take over my life, if you know what I mean.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful, informative post! OK, I first joined RWA, then my local chapter, for which I now serve as treasurer. Um... yes. I made FB & Twitter accounts, and a free website on WIX. Oh, and of course the blog! I've just recently realized how important that is--for networking, for making myself write, even when I wanna be a brat about it. I attend my local conferences, enter in contests, though I do so selectively.

I guess that's pretty much it. And yes, as someone mentioned above, it is very hard not to let this take over your life. Then again, if you want to be a professional writer, this is just part of it. Right?

Zan Marie said...

Platforms are a must. I'm using blogging, Facebook, local crit group, and the biggie--CompuServe Books and Writers Forum. ( http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?redirCnt=2&webtag=ws-books )

If you've never been to this site, you're missing a wonderful, free network, group critique and research site. One of the active members is best-selling author, Diana Gabaldon. You have to see this place to believe it. I hang out in the Writers Exercises folder most of the time. ; )

Arlee Bird said...

It's not enough to be just a writer anymore. One must learn to be a marketer as well.

I started building my platform when I started writing on my blog in late 2009. I had no idea about the concept of a platform at the time, but what I was doing seemed like a practical thing to do. I'm on a right track, but now I need to do more.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Talei said...

I have been using my blog to develop my voice, first and foremost, and also networking with the lovely writing and creative bloggers out there in bloggerland. I definitely think social networking helps when showcasing your work and yourself. It's to be able to build a platform yourself.

Southpaw said...

For me, so far it’s just blogging.

The Words Crafter said...

Aieeee!!!! A platform?!!! Well, I have you guys and I'm always willing to help promote a book. The rest will have to come.

Excellent point and post. And I'd say yes, it's pretty important.

Charmaine Clancy said...

It's an interesting balance that is needed. I've loved building an online platform, but must admit it takes from my writing time.
I'm only just branching into Facebook and wonder when I'll be able to get a personal assistant to help me with all this, ooh and someone to hang out the washing too (I hate that job).
Will probably try and get up to the Sydney Writer's Festival for the weekend it's on.
Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I'm with Charmaine - I enjoy the platform building, but it does take away from writing time. And let's face it, if we don't get the writing done, we don't much need a platform. It is great to have an opportunity to meet and share with other writers, though, and with other readers, teachers and parents as well. I have a website, a FB page and a relatively new blog, but I haven't tried Twitter yet...

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Josh, conrats on beginning

Emily, you'll likely hear it more often now

Deborah, even as a short story writer I think having a platform helps. It's definitely fun.

Victoria, I think I'll need that luck since there are many wonderful blogs I'm competing against.

Sarah, social media is hugely time consuming and we do need to make sure it doesn't take over.

Team Oyeniyi, I took the photo on Bare Island which is near the eastern suburbs of Sydney. yep, and the learning never stops.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Dezzy, well done! I have already liked your new Facebook page for Hollywood Spy.

Anthony and Shelly, thanks

Alex, your platform is perfect.

Old Kitty, yep, I also believe that a blog is more than just a platform.

Lindsay, everything you do builds your platform.

Clarissa, it would be nice to just write, but if I'd stayed in my cocoon I would have missed out on meeting so many wonderful people.

L'Aussie, hehe so true. I couldn't hope to compete against you, Denise.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

yup, platform is so important. I didn't really realize it for the longest time but anymore, you've got to take any opportunity to distinguish yourself and reach people that you can. Great post!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Raquel, hehe. Thanks.

Lydia, now there's the trick isn't it.

Alyssia, oh yes, I forgot to mention entering contest helps to get our names known too. You've done a huge amount which is brilliant.

Zan, I'll check out that site.

Lee, I think you got the marketing thing down--the number of people involved in this A-Z challenge proves that. And again, thank you for the hard work involved.

Talei, that's a great way of using your blog.

Holly, good way to start.

Words Crafter, hehe, exactly, what you are doing makes the perfect platform.

Charmaine, a personal assistant would be wonderful. If you do come to Sydney, then it would be great to meet.

Susanna, yep, finding that balance is crucial.

Ellie Garratt said...

Great advice. So far I have my blog and I recently joined Twitter. I'm loving both but it is very easy to spend valuable writing time blogging. You have to be strict with yourself!

Ellie Garratt

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great post. I don't know whether I am building a platform or not, but I certainly am enjoying meeting all the wonderful writers in Blogosophere. They have all become good friends now.

I see that Victoria too has passed the award to you. You truly deserve it, as you promote other writers so open heartedly. Hugs.

Laura Pauling said...

I think it's important to show that your trying esp. if an agent/editor is choosing between your work and another. He/she might go with the one who has some kind of platform. Of course, if the writing is awesome then it probably doesn't matter.

Pam Williams said...

Oh how we fight this as writers, Lynda! Our naturally reticent personalities just bulk at building a platform. Thanks so much for putting things in perspective and offering us some practical tips.

Terri Tiffany said...

Voted!! I hope you win!!!! And yes we need platform but I hate doing it:)

K.C. Woolf said...

Like you wrote: 'The writing community is a generous one, full of wonderful people willing to help each other out.'

That is so well said, and so true.

Amie Kaufman said...

For me, at the stage I'm at, the biggest benefit of social media is in being a part of this fantastic community--time and time again, though, I've seen writers who receive wonderful support upon publication from friends and followers. I think, done well, participating in social media becomes platform building without any real intention in that direction.

Carol Riggs said...

Yep, I've been doing all that the past year or so (Twitter, blogging, forums, etc.) but I don't like the idea of doing it just for the platform.

Like you said--it's about relationships. THAT is the fun part of platform building. It's off-putting when writers network only for promoting themselves and their book(s).

Unknown said...

To tell you the truth I have never thought about it before now. It is only lately that I have had time to even think about writing and to do something with it? Well that is a dream still.

Jennifer Hillier said...

Do I have a platform? I'm honestly not sure, even though I do blog, Facebook, and Twitter. If this is indeed a platform, then I guess I started building it about two years ago, long before I had an agent. I always figured if I built it, it would come. :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Lindsay, yes indeed. And thanks

Ellie, yes, exactly.

Rachna, thank you so much

Laura, definitely. By putting in the extra effort, agents/publishers can see you are worth the investment.

Pam, hope it helps :)

Terri, Thanks so much for the vote

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

K C Woolf, if I'd known how awesome the writing community is, I would have started blogging ages ago.

Amie, for me too. And yes, exactly right.

Carol, I don't think it can be done just for a platform. You'd burn out far too quickly.

Siv, yep, that's a platform. And yes, it did come :)

M Pax said...

It was about a year ago I started.

It keeps growing, especially if I keep learning. I've met so many wonderful people on blogger and the twitter.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Yep, it does keep growing which is gratifying.