Over the past few weeks, I have heard everyone from fellow writers, to agents, to publishers touting the importance of having a writer's platform. My first question was, "What the hell is a platform? Do I have one and not know it?"
It turns out I do, but I didn't figure that one out until after I looked up what it was. Let me de-mystify it for you. A platform is merely a presence. A place and way to reach your readers--your audience. In today's high tech world, there are a myriad of ways to accomplish this, and it doesn't matter if you have your book sold, or you are still writing it. The sooner you build your name and take steps toward networking and advertising yourself and your writing, the better off you will be when it comes time to start querying agents or if you self-publish, getting the word out about your book.
Here is a list of 5 things you can do as a writer to start building your platform now:
1. Start a blog or website (or both) about your writing and/or anything else you might find of interest to talk about. Once you create it, post regularly -- at least once a week. You can post about anything, really. Just remember that it is your blog, so it should be about you or show a visitor a glimpse into who you are.
1a. Update your content regularly. This way visitors know and can see that the site is active and updated.
2. Attend readings, signings and book launches. What better way to network and get to know other writers in your area?
3. Twitter and Facebook. Yes, I know they are time eaters, and for many, way more work than fun, but once you get used to using them, they are not quite as evil as they appear. Besides, they are a great social networking tool and heck, you might as well take full advantage of the resources available.
4. Join writing sites and follow/support other writer blogs. The more you put yourself out there and show you are willing to help others promote, the more you will be promoted by others. While I don't subscribe to things like giving good reviews to friends merely because they are friends, I do believe in a certain amount of you wash my back and I'll was yours. We all have been new to this at one point or another. And you know what they say about karma.
5. Attend writer's conferences and retreats when possible. While I have yet to do this one, it is on my list. I am just waiting to have a complete novel to really go out and push when I am at one. These are great places to meet other writers, agents, publishers and all sorts of people "in the biz". Networking is really never a bad thing, is it? Kinda like no publicity is bad publicity.
Long gone are the days where an author left the hard work, selling themselves and their work to agents and publishers. In this modern publishing age, it is up to us-- the ones that sweat over the work-- to really push it, and ourselves to the forefront. It all goes back to my personal favorite line-- and something I truly believe.
If you dont believe in yourself, nobody else will.
Good luck and happy writing.