This week we are going to look at what is known as The Writer’s Platform. We’ll answer the questions: “What is it?” “What’s involved in making one?” “Do I need one?” And “How soon should I make one?”
This idea also works for other businesses as well. Anyone who is to looking to have a presence online to draw people to their company or service would do well in learning about the platform idea.
What is a Writer’s Platform?
If you think of it as a physical thing, a platform is a raised area like a stage which would put someone, in this case the writer, above the crowd to be viewed by everyone at once. Online, it’s a central point to attract fans and future readers to one location to get to know you as a person and what you’re up to in the world of writing. From that point, you can direct them to other points of interest that are a part of your platform.
Usually a Blog is the center of a Writer’s Platform; a place where a writer can share articles and ideas about the writing and publishing industry, projects they are currently working on, and general knowledge of “Who you are” and “What makes you tick.”
From there you can provide links that lead people to other social media sites to see photos, further articles, and give your readers a chance to actually interact with you on a regular basis. The more a reader gets to know you as a person, the more they will be interested in buying your books and telling others about you.
The number of social media sites to have depends on what kind of presence you want online and how much time you have to spend at each place. The more sites you use, the more time will be required of you, so don’t spread yourself too thin. Otherwise, someone might post a question on one site and you might not see it for a week or more if you don’t frequent it very often. Smartphones are very handy to provide you with notices of when some comments on one of your pages and it keeps you in the loop as it were.
What’s involved in making one?
As we stated previously, a blog is a good focus. A lot of writers that I know of use WordPress.com for their blog posts but you don’t have to join it because we do. There are a variety of places where you can set up a blog. Just make sure that you post regularly and commit to doing it for as often as you say.
There are a few that make blogs posts daily, some weekly, and others monthly. I chose weekly as I don’t have enough time to write daily, since I have a job to make a living. I wouldn’t recommend monthly as a lot of your followers make lose interest quickly awaiting your next post. Here’s a link to my blog. Of course, if you’re reading this article you are more than likely already there.
In addition to the blog, I would suggest having a presence on both Facebook and Twitter as they will establish who the REAL you is. I would also suggest an author page on Facebook where you can post updates concerning your writing as well as excerpts from upcoming projects. Individual profile pages only allow a maximum of 5000 friends whereas a page gives you millions. It depends on how many people you expect to follow you.
Don’t deny future readers access to your personal profile as this proves you are a real human being. Sure they may not be interested that Junior is finally potty trained or “if your boss looks funny at you one more time…” The idea is to let them know that although you are a writer, you have everyday accomplishments and problems just like them. As the old saying goes, “I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like you.”
On Twitter you can post, or rather, tweet things as a writer would. With the limited amount of characters allowed per tweet, this is where you want to focus more on your life as a writer as opposed to the fact that you and your “peeps” are hanging out at the mall. You can provide story updates like: “Finished first draft, now comes the editing” or “I can’t believe I had to kill off Ol’ Doc Bradley, I may cry for days”.
You can also find a lot of fellow writers on Twitter and find out what they have to say, make comments, and Retweet their Tweets to show up in your feeds. More writers prefer to be on Twitter as it encourages people to come to the point whether asking a question or making a comment about what you just said. Here’s my Twitter Account.
Creating a YouTube channel has its advantages for writers as they can post trailers they’ve designed for their books or upload videos of themselves talking about their writing process or giving writing tips about what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. You can also save a collection of your favorite songs/videos to show people what you listen to while writing or you can show people what a soundtrack for your latest novel would look like if it were turned into a movie. Here is my YouTube channel.
This site is a place to collect pictures, sayings and motivational quotes all one a page known as a board. Think of it as a bulletin board where you pin different things that mean something to you. I have one called the Writer’s Platform and post pictures of my cover images, inspirational pictures, quotes from writer’s, and other helpful writing tips. The only drawback to this page is that I can’t get pictures lined up in the order that I want them. If anyone out there knows how to do this please share in the comments below. Here’s a link to my boards on Pinterest.
A couple months ago I signed up to be on Instagram hoping to attract more people to my books. This site is for photos mostly and the occasional mini-video; anything that you can post straight from your phone. You can’t update from your laptop, I’ve already tried.
The focus here is to show people pics of yourself, plus book covers of current and/or upcoming releases and further helps prove that you are real person.
I’m not 100% sure if I’ll stay with this or not but time will tell. I may give myself until the end of the year and decide then. Here’s my Instagram account.
In addition to these, I’m also on Google +, LinkedIn, and Goodreads. However, I don’t frequent them as much as I’m not all that familiar with them and I haven’t benefitted from them as much as I have from the other media site. That’s not to say that you won’t have any luck with them. As I stated earlier, just be careful as to how many sites you want to be on so you don’t spread yourself too thing.
NOTE: In regards to all of these accounts, I would highly recommend that you use your name or pen name for both your screen name and online handle. Remember, you want people to find you, the writer, not Lovehandles46.
Do I need a Writer’s Platform?
In a word, Yes! With the creation of self-published sites where you can do the publishing yourself, and with the concept of E-books, a writer’s platform is very necessary to get the word out that you are an author and you have books to be read.
Social media has become huge in the last ten years or so and without a presence online it’s impossible to let people know who you are. Even if you are publishing the traditional route, you can’t expect them to do all promotions for you and your book. You’ll want to make the effort yourself to establish an online presence. Furthermore, with you in control of your own presence you can decide how often you post and make comments online. Once your book has been out for several months, or even years, a publishing company will not promote you as often as you’d like.
When should I create my platform?
This question has been debated for quite some time and I’m surprised that there are people still asking it. My advice is to create your platform long before the first book is published. You want people to get to know “YOU”, the author, first. That way when you book is ready for purchase; you’ll already have a line of people ready to buy when it becomes available.
Let’s look at this through the lens of a historical landmark event. Everyone is familiar with the moon landing in 1969. We are introduced to the astronauts, we follow them to the rocket, we cheer the liftoff, and then we rejoice as it lands and the astronauts walk on the surface. The significance of this (besides the event itself) is that we know a great deal about it before long before the rocket leaves the launch pad. In a speech on May 25, 1961, President Kennedy promised we would put a man on the moon before the decade was over. That was eight years before it happened.
Now, let’s suppose that you, the author, are an astronaut, and your book is the moon landing. NASA is your publisher (traditional or self-publishing). Your platform then is the announcement to the country that you are heading to the moon writing a book. The news travels around from one person to the next, interviews are posted in papers and on television online, and this leads up to your departure into space book release day. If you release the book first and then develop a platform, it’s the same as landing on the moon first and then telling everyone about it. Imagine the disappointed astronaut on the moon’s surface jumping up and down and waving his arms at the people on earth—and nobody is paying attention.
Even if your book is already out, don’t despair about the writer’s platform. Get one together and get the word out! Make sure you focus as much on yourself as you do your book. Personally, I’d rather have fans of me who will buy my books, then fans of my books. There is a difference especially if you write a series. Once your series is over, fans of your books may not follow you to your next novel or series. They may just sit back and hope you will put out more books based on the series. I want people to be fans of me and read everything I write regardless on the genre.
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned from it. Please share with me in the comments below of your own platform experiences or your concerns. Feel free to follow me on social media and get to know me more than what you have here.