Monday, March 29, 2010

You want me to build a WHAT?!?!

A platform. HUH?! *rolls eyes, releases frustrated sigh* A platform! An Author Platform, to be more exact.

What is a platform, you ask? Well, okay, maybe you didn’t ask. I mean, chances are you probably already know. I, however, only recently learned a few weeks ago what it was, so I’m going to pretend that you don’t know to soothe my own ego. Cuz that’s what I do. ;) *clears throat* Okay, so here we go. Pretend you’re learning something.

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn describes it as, “…how you are currently reaching an audience of book-buying people, or how you plan to do so. It is your influence, your ability to sell to your market. It is your multi-faceted book marketing machine!”

“Oh!” you say. “So an Author Platform is all the stuff your publisher does, right?” Wrong. This is all the stuff that WE need to do if we want to get our writing out into the world. Whether you have a publisher or not, whether you have an agent or not, there is nobody in this world that will do for your writing what YOU can do for it. And thanks to the wonderful world of modern technology, most of the tools we can use to accomplish this platform, are practically free. All it costs us is a little (okay, probably a lot) of our time and some good ol’ fashioned metaphorical elbow grease.

Now, I could stand up here on my soapbox and preach to you, using all of my well-versed knowledge about author platforms and how to go about creating them, but I have two problems with that, which are as follows:

1. I’ve tried standing on soapboxes before and really, I don’t get it. I mean, have you ever tried it? Soapboxes are tiny. And they only raise you up, like, an inch total. What's the point of that? All of you in the back won't even be able to see me. If I was going to preach for any reason, I’d rather stand on something like a platform. Not an author platform, though. Cuz that’s just silly. And...

2. I’m obviously not an expert on the subject, as I pointed out in my Top Ten Reasons I Suck at Blogging post. Although I’ve been making a huge effort to change this fact, I’ve still got a long way to go with the whole platform concept. Right now I’d say that, with my blog, I’ve started mixing the concrete that’s going to hold the posts of my platform firmly in the ground. But I have yet to go to Home Depot and purchase my lumber, so I'm far from experienced in the matter.

So, in light of those extremely revealing problems, I’m going to give you the articles that I’ve read on the topic and let THEM teach you about author platforms. But once you read their posts, discover their staggering levels of sheer genius and become avid followers, please don’t forget to visit my humble blog once in a while. You know, for nostalgic reasons and crap like that. Or if you just feel like slumming it some days.

Okay, here they are:

Lindsey Edwards, writer of paranormal, fantasy and historical romance describes a platform as "all the ways in which you can gain visibility among readers" in her article Author Platform and the Debut of Your Book. She has really great suggestions in an easy-to-scan bulleted format on ways you can improve your platform for both non-fiction and fiction writers.

Author of thrillers, Joe Moore of The Kill Zone blog wrote a great post called Building a Writer's Platform, where he also gives some great ideas with a little more in-depth detail on what to do.

Jane Friedman added a post on the Writer Unboxed blog called Audience Development: Critical to Every Writer's Future. This is a great article where she tackles some of the myths us newbies have in our heads like "our craft being the most important thing" and our need to only "focus on our writing." She explains why those types of thoughts can be problematic for writers and gives great information on how the relationship between publisher-author-audience works.

And for any of you lucky ducklings who already have a publisher, Barry Eisler, who is also a writer of thrillers, gives fantastic examples of the lengths that he went to in order to convince his publisher to invest more time and money into his books in his post Recruiting a Publisher.

But, I have to admit, my absolute favorite post I read on this topic was written by Chuck Wendig of the Terribleminds blog, entitled Writer's Don't Do That. He delves into all of the excuses that we, as writers, desperately grasp to our chests in strangling choke-holds while huddling in our darkened corners of solitude. These excuses allow us blame outside forces when our efforts at success fall at our feet like the wrinkled latex of a deflated balloon. In his post, Chuck wields his Crowbar of Literary Knowledge. He wedges it between our chests and arms to pry our coddled comfort zones away from our bodies before crushing them under the heel of his benevolent boots for our own damn good.

If you enjoy a no-nonsense, straight shooter, tells-ya-how-it-is-even-if-it-hurts kind of writer, then definitely check out Chuck. (ooh, that was fun and unintentional alliteration) He's an amazing writer and doesn’t believe in sugar-coating things to spare your feelings, but rather uses his own form of tough love where he slaps you out of your hysteria and then applies a balm to soothe the sting becuz he loves you (though he denies it, he’s really just a big softy at heart).

However, I must warn you that his blogsite is not for the faint of heart. Sprinkled between all of the great information are crass metaphors and lots of swearing. And though you wouldn’t know it from my writing on this blog, I actually swear like a truck driver in real life, so I find him freaking hee-larious! His posts are lengthy (don't you just hate mile-long posts? Wait a minute…*looks up at writing and sighs*…crap), but so well-written and entertaining that I promise you won’t even notice. And as I said, he’s extremely knowledgeable about the writing profession and his posts are chock-full of informational goodies. It’s a win-win in my book.

So what about all of you? Did you already know all of this? Am I preachin’ to the choir or have you come away with interesting and previously unknown tidbits? Have you read any great articles on author platforms that you’d like to share? Give it up in the comments section. Let me hear ya!


  1. I am no softy! I am piss and vinegar! I am acid reflux! I am raw anger and doom doom doom --

    Ooh, puppies!

    *runs away to hug them*

    -- c.

  2. Wait - a what? Platform? Can it be made out of cardboard, and can we put glitter on it? I thought all we had to do was have a dream, write it down, send out queries and get a big agent who makes it into a worldwide phenomenon and movies and t-shirts that all teenagers want?!

    Love you, girl, and I paid it forward today --

  3. I started my blog when a woman in the biz over at stated she doesn't consider signing a new author unless s/he has a website or blog. I had no idea how valuable the experience would turn out to be. As far as building a potential audience, I say that definitely works. I have already gone out and bought books by blogging authors whose work I may or may not have stumbled across on my own. I have a list of books I'm buying as soon as they release. When I think it may be my book one day my blogging BFFs anxiously await to buy, I get very excited!

    For a writer like me, working my way through my first MS, the networking aspect of blogger is turning out to be invaluable. I look forward each day to the encouragement, information, and inspiration I glean from other blogs.

    Great post! Stop by my blog today, I'm celebrating my newest blog friends and passed along an award to you :)

  4. Gina, this post is awesome! I've sort of know about the idea of an author platform in a very vague and abstract way. I didn't even know there was a real term for it. Wow. The info you're sharing will help me tremendously. Thanks!

    P.S. The soap-box rant was FANTASTIC! I actually laughed out loud--people are work now think I'm nuts. :)

  5. Chuck: *lol* yeah, that's what I thought.

    Nicole (Hadaway): I would totally love to make platforms with you. I'll bring the multi-colored pipe cleaners and Elmer's glue! I read your post today and can I just tell you how much I loved JEM?!? I had all the dolls and watched the cartoon religiously. Didn't she have like the best bf in the world? "Jem is truly, truly outrageous...ooh-ooh-ooh Jem..."

    Nicole (Ducleroir): wow, that's really interesting that you were told a blog or website is a prerequisite. I guess we're all on the right track then! You're right, the networking from blogging is proving to be invaluable. I'm glad I made the choice to stick with it!

    Jenni: I'm so glad I was able to pass on great information to you! I'm also proud that my soapbox rant was the motivating factor in revealing your insanity to your coworkers. It's only fair that they be aware of the nutjob they're working with. ;) Now that you're out of the closet, embrace your lunacy! lol

    Special Side Note: today my word verification is "mathy", as in, the term used to call the subject of arithmatic by someone with an annoying habit of speaking in baby-talk.

  6. Great post! I started my blog as a way to network with other writers, but it's turned into a great beginning to building my platform too!

    Also, I love the blurb at the top of your page! Sounds like such an interesting story!

  7. Building a platform would pre-suppose some kind of plan. Having a plan would indicate some form of organized thinking. Organized thinking is something that doesn't always come easy and needs to be nutured. A nuturing enviroment is....


    What was I talking about again?

  8. Kat: Thanks so much for visiting! You're right about networking and platform. There's definitely a spot in there where the two overlap and your networking connections become the founding results of your platform. :)

    I'm so glad you like my blurb! It took me forever to write that thing. I'm not good and "short and to the point" so writing a hook about a 133K word novel was next to impossible for me. If you're intrigued, check out my first chapter in my earlier post from March 16th. :)

  9. DL: Oh, DL, I can't tell you how much I love the views into your mind you offer up in the form of blog comments. LOL Thanks for the laugh, as always. :D

  10. Hi there Gina -
    funny post
    several funny comments...

    I followed Nicole's post with your link over here.

    Blogging is tough.
    - so now I am off to check out your why I suck at blogging link.

  11. Blogging is A LOT of work. I've been doing it for a year now (wow, uh, a year? I just passed my year mark. Crazy!) I've learned a lot from the experience and it has helped me learn to write better, believe it or not. One of the best things blogging has done for me though? It helped me find a critique group, which has been invaluable.

  12. Shelley: Hi there. *awkward smile and blushes* Uh, we've already met actually. You're, um, one of my followers. I apologize for not engaging you sooner than this. But I hope this can be the beginning of a long-standing blogging friendship. :}

    Tiana: Wow, congrats on surviving your first year! I've only been at this since Sept. 09, but I don't think I really took it seriously until recently. I'm hoping I can become a more active blogger, without letting it consume my life. :)

  13. Gina -
    Oh dear.. well pleased to meet you too. I thought I had just joined yesterday - but apparently not. I have what you call blogger feed overload. :)


  14. I was naive when I first started writing and then I started really writing and thought a blog was something I should start. After I did it become amazing and I realized that this was something I needed to make myself a better writer and to create a platform!

    It's been amazing! Less than 3 months and I have so many people who love to read my blog!


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