You Need to Build an Author Platform

 

social-media-961769_640Every writer has heard this phrase. We know it’s a crucial part of our career, whether we choose the indie or traditional publishing route. But what does it really mean?

I could tell you to go ask my good friend, Google. He knows everything and can point you to tons of books, blogs, videos, webinars, and so on that are dedicated to the subject. But . . .

Well, that would leave me with a really short blog post. Instead, I’ll share what I’ve learned over the past year and a half. More importantly, what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

The first time I heard about building a platform, I was reading a book on successful e-book publishing . . . long before I even started chapter one of my debut novel. At the time, my mind tried to conjure up the image of a physical structure, and it looked like some rickety old wooden tower—something that would easily collapse in a mild breeze.

Looking back, that fragile structure was a pretty accurate representation of my writing venture in the early days. I didn’t have any contacts or friends in the field to lean on for support. No critique partners to make me a stronger writer and storyteller. No mentor to guide me and shove me back on course when I strayed.

There was no internet presence, which should make up the largest portion of an author’s platform. No one even knew I wrote, so there weren’t any readers. And honestly, the idea of someone reading my thoughts back then terrified me, so I didn’t mind.

That’s no longer the case.

Now, a year and a half later, I have a pretty good idea what an author’s platform should look like. From here, it’s just a matter of acquiring all the necessary tools and continually working to build it bigger, better, and stronger every single day.

So, what is this platform stuff all about?

Simply put, it means developing your author brand and image. It means you need to make yourself visible as an author. It’s about networking and making connections—the same key principals that apply to every other business in the world.

That’s right . . .  we need to communicate with other authors, editors, bloggers, artists, readers—

Hold on . . . I need to talk to people? Like . . . strangers? I’m, um . . . I’m pretty sure my parents warned me against that . . .

A lot of writers tend to be introverts, and I’m no exception. We usually have enough characters roaming around in our heads to have long, detailed conversations without needing to bring another actual person into the mix. We’re content to sit quietly on the sidelines of life and listen in, always filing away the information we gather for use in a future story.

Some people, the non-writer types, insist on calling that eavesdropping, but we all know it’s just research. Honest!

Okay, so I finally know what a platform is and what I need to do. That’s progress.

So why haven’t I been doing it? That’s a great question!

I wish I had a good answer. Maybe I was feeling a little insecure, maybe something shook my confidence, maybe the dog ate my homework.

The reason doesn’t really matter. Everyone falls. Everyone screws up. What matters is what we do after the fact—how we learn from our mistakes and use that knowledge to move forward.

I’ve been down the rabbit hole. It’s dark. It’s lonely. And hiding down there is no way for an author to build a successful career. I’d taken the right first steps and set up social media accounts in multiple outlets, but I neglected to actively participate and missed out on so many opportunities to connect with members of the amazing indie community and a plethora of avid readers searching for a new book or a new favorite author.

Big, big mistake! Huge!

But it’s never to late to do things right, so now it’s time for all of that to change!

My journey is back on track. I’m writing every day. I’m focused, and I’m feeling confident and strong. I have a book to finish writing, and I need to build a strong platform that will support it and carry me on to a successful writing career.

The experts all say that a website and blog are the most important building blocks for any platform. You can use the buttons on the sidebar to follow my blog and to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

See ya ’round the internet. —CJ

7 responses

  1. Advice? Don’t get too bogged down with blogging. It doesn’t sell that many books, or guarantee that you will sell loads once you’ve published, especially not if you blog about writing, as that narrows your audience to other writers. Not saying that was what you were planning to do, of course!!!!

    I think it’s more about getting involved with other bloggers, especially book bloggers, even if you only write an article once a fortnight. And don’t try and do too much – you can’t be a whizz on all sites!!! Good luck and all the best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always welcome and appreciate everyone’s thoughts, suggestions, and advice; so thanks for sharing! 🙂

      I think of my blog a personal journal of my journey to becoming a published author–successes, failures, challenges, etc. So a lot of what I post about will relate to writing, but the idea of overcoming challenges to achieve a dream applies to many aspects of life; so hopefully non-writers will also relate to and enjoy my story.

      Like

  2. Having a base from which to communicate is important because if you try to communicate without one, it’s much harder. (Go stand on the street corner and shout, versus draw a crowd first.) Who that base is will be up to you, but I always tell people, imagine if the favorite author from your early days in school had been available for you to post with – how different would your interest in that author’s works have been? And that’s just one example. BTW, most writers read a lot, so it’s not a bad place to start.

    I always imagined this blog to be discussing your writing journey as you struggle with whatever’s in front of you as a new author: to write, to build a base, publish – like 99% of other writers will. I wish I’d have done it in real time instead of saying “back when I was new” all the time. It would have read as way more honest and helpful. That fear and pain is palpable, and everything is a mountain to climb.

    Then, as you accomplish each goal, the feeling of exuberance would come through, too. I expect it to be a very interesting journey. With a happy ending, of course.

    There was already a huge benefit to daring to do one of the terrifying things you did. By joining a critique group and having to show your very private works to others, you were able to meet and network with people who have done what you want to do, and that puts you in position to have mentors who will help you avoid wasting your time or falling into the abyss of despair after you publish your book because they know some things to do and some things to avoid.

    Already the blog has helped. Now when you get negative comments you have developed a thicker skin to ignore them. It all ads up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dan…you’re the best! And you’re right about my vision for my blog.

      I’ve come a long way in my writing, as well as grown personally, thanks to the support and guidance from the people I met in my critique group and through your blog.

      That happy ending is coming…but it will only be the beginning. 🙂

      Like

  3. CJ … you have a big plus going for you … you can write … your blog shows that … your comments on other blogs too … to blog is good … I’d be lost without mine … it’s where my writing truly started. It’s good to have folk out there to relate to… but you’re accountable to yourself … just remember … we like you … why else would we be spending time here with you … and oh yes … I’ll be buying your book(s) too … because I’ve got to know a little of you … so get it out there girl … I’m not so young!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks E!
      You’re always so supportive, and I truly appreciate it! 🙂
      I’m working on getting that book out there, ’cause a) I’m getting tired of it only being a WIP, and b) I’m not so young anymore either. (shhh…)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for following my blog!

    Like

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