You send out your query letters, hoping that a website and writer's group is enough to qualify for the ever coveted platform...whatever.
I struggled with the idea of a platform for the longest time. And honestly, it sort of pissed me off that as a newer author I was expected to have a platform. Really? I just finished writing a novel. Isn't that a good enough platform for ya? Huh?
Hell, I don't know anyone in my circle of family and friends who've written a novel. That's a pretty big deal don't you think? And now you expect me to have an audience of hundreds, and even thousands. Get a life.
That was then...this is now (9 months later).
I have sincerely swallowed those words several times over.
In the course of my writing journey I've learned that your platform is absolutely critical to a writer with long term writing objectives. So how do you get on? Where do you you find it? Can you buy it? Rent it?
No. You have to build.
A platform is simply the way you reach out to your readers. Like many authors, I learned that by default, or as we say in the trade, by screwing up a lot!
Over the course of the last nine months, yes I said nine months. You heard right. I did not have a platform nine months ago.
I had a book, a few family members and some friends who were sure to read it, but like many of you, I was starting from scratch...as in peel off the skin, muscle, and veins and that's where you'd find me, scratching the bare bones of my audience.
While looking up from that vantage point, I learned that every writer seemed to be doing his or her own thing. A platform, from my perspective, appeared to be vague and unattainable unless I had the readers first. This platform thingy was really confusing. I had no idea from whence would my readers come?
Ahhh, that's the trick. But wait. Building your platform really isn't a trick. It's work.
From my experience, a good structure needs a solid foundation. And since, I had set out to build a platform, the foundation was the first thing. I built. I decided to establish a presence at Goodreads, Twitter, My blog and Facebook. Great. I had a starting point. Still no followers other than my fam and homeboys.
With the four corners of my platform standing, I decided to spend a little time at each post on a regular basis. I wrote blog posts once or twice a week. I tweeted a little everyday, posting #novelines, retweeting, and meeting folks. I posted pics, covers and had contests on Facebook, and I started friending peeps on Goodreads. Days turned to weeks and weeks turned into months. And pretty soon, I had 50, then, 100 followers.
Books were selling. I kept writing. I kept revising. I kept updating my profiles and blog page, adding content that was relevant and helpful, and then it hit me. I was doing it. The walls were up. The windows were supported with cripples, and the decking was on the rafters. For the first time I could see the structure...my platform was taking shape.
Sound familiar? It should. But that's not all.
I realized that the more readers I met and the more writer friends I made, I couldn't possibly retweet them all. I couldn't "Like" every one's posts, and book pages, and God help me, I couldn't read four books a week. I had to make my platform really work for and for my readers and for my writer friends.
I needed to put some wheels on my platform. I needed an engine that would run on auto pilot. Or better yet, on solar power. Can you imagine the light bulb shining over my head? Trust me, it was there, because that's when the lights came on. That's when I conceived of The Kindle Book Review... another blog. Shah. I couldn't imagine another blog either, but this idea really got my wheels turning.
The Kindle Book Review is my ultimate platform. I connect with readers daily. I meet new authors and help them get noticed and I have a wonderful crew of reviewers as powerful as a team of horses.
So far the motor is running smooth as silk...nine months later.
What about you? At what point are you at in the building process? Are you pouring concrete or framing walls? If you're not sure, that all right. You'll get there, but like any building project, it will take time and you will sweat. You''ll hit your thumb with a hammer a few times and you might even fall from a ladder a time or two, but you'll get there.
There are many blue prints available, but only you can find the plan that works best for you. Some writers write reviews. Some writers interview authors. Some authors do a lot of retweeting, hashtag building, writer chatting, book clubbing and what not.
No matter how you construct your platform, build it plumb and build it on the level. Make it unique to your personality and keep it fun, because doing this writer platform thingy is too much work to bother with if it isn't enjoyable.
So...have you got your hammer? What about your nail pouch? Good. I can't wait to see what your building. BOOM!
Jeff Bennington is the author of Reunion, Creepy and Twisted Vengeance (coming very soon).
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You can find great books, and great authors who are getting great reviews at The Kindle Book Review.