10 Tips on Platform Building for New Writers
Having the ability to write a book is not nearly as challenging as promoting and selling your book. Sadly, what most new authors find out the hard way is that you have to do the hard work as there is no promise that your literary agent or publisher will do it for you. This is why having a writing platform is imperative to getting your name out to the public.
What is a platform?
A writer’s platform is a tool, or multiple tools, that help you get your name and your book out to the general public. It could be anything from an author’s website, to public speaking, to media appearances and everything in between. As an author, you need to build your platform the same way businesses build their brand. You want to be recognized, even if just by a few, so that there are people to buy and review your work as it is released.
How does a writing platform help you?
Many writers get into writing for the love of writing, or at the
very least, because they have a story they want to share. What most don’t count
on is all the work that comes in creating an engaged following and finding
readers who are willing to pay for your work. This is especially true if you’re
a first-time or non-published author. Because of this, it’s important to lay
the foundation ahead of time and build a stable platform for yourself.
Here are my top ten tips on platform building for writers:
- Use what you already have and know. If you have a strong social media following continue to manage those relationships but start focusing your tweets, posts, and graphics to the “story” you’re trying to sell. While a personal social media account is great for your friends and family, you want to reach a broader audience that could potentially be your readers one day. If you’re not currently on social media, no worries. Create an account dedicated to your writing or your books and concentrate on posting related works and subject matter. Follow people in your genre and comment on their posts.
- Create an author’s website and actually post to it. Having a website as a writer is great but having a website where you are constantly producing content is even better. This allows your readers to get familiar with your writing style and subject matter. As a memoir writer, coach, and speaker my topics tend to focus on real-world experiences and lessons. However, if you’re a fantasy writer it would make sense for you to write fun-filled posts to attract the appropriate audience.
- Become a member. Thanks to modern technology, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to become a member of a like-minded group. Join online book clubs, Facebooks groups, membership clubs for your genre, library reading groups, in-person book clubs. Get to know others in your groups and begin building a relationship.
- Make new (bookish) friends. Don’t get stuck behind the computer and only join online groups. Getting out and meeting other authors in your genre, or just others who write in general, can help you build a support group, have others to bounce ideas off of, and can help you develop your writing skills. Keep in mind that these new friends can also help you network and may know about processes and steps you’ve not stumbled upon yet. Good friends can be great resources.
- Write for others.In order to expand your audience, you have to look outside your own box. Offer to write guest posts or collaborate with other writers about doing a project together. If you really want to start building a reputation for the genre that you write, look into magazines, e-zines, or popular blogs that produce your genre’s articles and submit a proposal for an idea you could publish on their page.
- Consider speaking publicly. You don’t have to speak to large audiences, some people prefer local community groups, churches, and even schools, but you should start speaking to groups. Doing so gives you the opportunity to hone in on your skills and get feedback from your readers. Plus, you never know who is in the audience…
- Teach what you love. While I do not love the hardships that I’ve been through and I wouldn’t wish hard times on anyone, I do love seeing others live their best lives. As a coach, I get to teach and talk with individuals about what they’ve been through and how they can push through the pain. That’s what I love. But don’t stop there. I also love being able to show others how the process of writing heals (insert previous post link), and how to use memoir writing as a form of self-discovery. If you write about biographies, you could teach how to research and interview. Or if you prefer writing about theology, you could teach how a writer would tie in scripture to their work. We all have something we can teach others.
- Support other writers. Attend book launches and book readings. Congratulate a fellow author when they get published or send out their first query letter. Write a positive review for books you truly enjoy and would recommend to others. Leave positive comments on author websites you like. When you support others, you will find that they in turn will support you. Just be sincere when you do it and not salesy or fake.
- Have an author’s calling card. I saw this idea recently and almost didn’t give it the attention it deserves. After thinking about it for a while, I could see the real benefit in having an author’s “business” card. Afterall, as a writer you are in the business of marketing, promoting, and selling your work. It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. A simple card with your website address, links to author selling pages (on Amazon, GoodReads, etc.), and your social media account names would be a great place to start. If you’ve already started publishing, a list on the back of the books currently for sale would be an added bonus for the recipient.
- Spread the Word. Sometimes, our greatest promoters are those closest to us, yet, we don’t utilize their support correctly. Instead of asking friends and family to tell people they know about you or your book, consider sending them an email or asking them to sign up for your newsletter. Then, challenge them to send the same request to their friends and family. Word of mouth, especially when coming from a place of honest care and encouragement, may get you new readers or promoters that you would never have thought to “speak” to.
One More Thing…
I do want to say one more thing about building your writer’s platform…it’s a long-term process. While building a platform is challenging and times take, it doesn’t have to be ugly. You’re going to build relationships with people, establish yourself in speaking communities, forums, and online. You might even find that you’re writing more for someone else then you are for yourself. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process and will be worth it as long as you keep moving forward. The goal is not to rush through it all, but to grow and manage an audience that will follow you for a long time.
Now that you’ve seen the list, what’s the first thing you’re going to do to begin building your own writing platform?
“The Shoebox Effect is more than a memoir…it’s a movement.”
What’s in YOUR shoebox?