Every 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