The Writer and the Platform: Guest post by Chris Mentzer

Writer platformOn the heels of my post about the importance of a strong author bio in your book proposal, author Chris Mentzer offered to further discuss that elusive author platform we hear so much about. (Chris’s book Nexus of the Worlds will be published by Tiger Dynasty Publishing in December, so he’s lived this firsthand.) Chris and I connected through social media, and we are both proponents of building those personal relationships  every author needs to create a strong platform. I know you’ll enjoy reading his thoughts, and don’t forget to visit Chris’s blog at Tales from the Fifth Tower when you’re finished here. Take it away, Chris:

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One of the hot topics of discussion in the world of writing concerns the writer’s platform. Some ask, “Should I have one, even though I don’t have a book?” or “I’m fiction author, so is it necessary for me to have one?” Let’s look at both these questions and some related ones.

What Is a Platform?

In simple terms, and speaking from a material standpoint, a platform is a series of planks connected together to make a raised surface for an individual to stand on. In politics, a platform is a candidate’s basis for being elected; each plank is a promise that he makes to be elected. In writing, the platform is your place in cyberspace for people to find you and know who you are among other writers. Each plank is an outlet where you can be noticed and heard.

A writer platform is your place in cyberspace for people to find you and know who you are...… Click To Tweet

The Planks of the Writer’s Platform

I read articles that say a writer’s blog or website is the platform, as that is the hub of his or her activity. In theory, I agree with this. However, looking at the definition of platform, the blog is only one part of the entire structure. It may be the main section, but it is not the whole platform. When you add your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media outlets, those the additional planks strengthen the entire platform. Author interviews, books blurbs, author bios, and book trailers are additional planks.

But I Don’t Have a Published Book

There are a lot of writers out there who claim they don’t need a platform since they don’t have a book to sell. I can understand this, but in the busy world of cyberspace, even with a book you may not be heard; it might take months—even years—to develop a fan base for you and your books.

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, and this leads up to your departure into space book being released. 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.

Selling Yourself

Your platform sells you and your brand and allows people to get to know you and your style of writing, and from there you build a fan base of followers. That way, when the book is released, you already have the attention of a number of people who will buy your book and/or tell others about it, and you hope they will get on board and buy as well.

How do you sell yourself? That’s where the blog comes into play. Talk about yourself, the genre you write, the books you have read, and other basic things about who you are and what makes you tick. Have someone interview you asking these questions. There are bloggers out there who specialize in helping people get discovered even before a book is available. On Twitter, follow fellow authors of the same genre and pick their brains. Find out how they got to where they are right now. They may soon follow you, and from there you can develop a following of your own.

But I’m a Fiction Writer Continue reading “The Writer and the Platform: Guest post by Chris Mentzer”

Are You a Social Media Addict?

social media addiction
Social networking back in the day, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

Today I welcome author and blogger Tam Francis, who muses about the addictive nature of social media for platform building.  Tam’s experience is one many of us have shared (still share?), and this humorous look at her “problem” made me laugh. Take it away, Tam:

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When Candace invited me to guest blog, I was grateful and thrilled. I have been blogging for years but mostly about subjects that reflect the content of my novel, The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress: vintage clothing, swing dancing, cocktails, vintage sewing, and WWII memorabilia. In keeping with the themes of Candace’s blog, I wanted to share my writerly (really love this new-for-me word) experience. Lately, I’ve been on a crash course to catch up to the social media standard for writers.

Do you feel like your real life is an interruption to your writer life? #writerslife Click To Tweet

Do you ever feel like your “real life” (dinner, friends, dishes, laundry, soccer games, even television) is an interruption to your “writer life”?

So much of the writer life is in our heads. Even as we physically read these words, we are in our heads. Cyberspace isn’t a real place, though real people are at the end of the tangled tapestry; they are in their heads at their computers.

When I began building my writer platform, I couldn’t wait to check my inbox to see who followed me today or if anyone commented on my comments.

I was an addict, and social media was my drug. Continue reading “Are You a Social Media Addict?”

Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!

I received official notification from WordPress that my blog is now a year old:

Wordpress

Thank you to friends, followers, and everyone in this wonderful writing community for your friendship and support. I love working with writers, and my goal for my blog posts is to provide useful content that will help you whether you write for publication or “just because.” In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m listing links to some of my most popular articles and guest posts from the last 12 months, and I hope I’ve grouped these in a way that makes searching topics a bit easier for you. Feel free to add a comment on any of them—your comments are always welcome.

Self-Editing

Struggling with Revisions? Try Playing with Paper Dolls

Self-Editing Checklist for Fiction Writers Part I: Macro Issues Continue reading “Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary to Me!”

Should Fiction Writers Bother with Blogs and Websites?

I’ve been evaluating fiction manuscripts lately.should writers blog

Most are by authors who are yet to be published, and some are by authors who have published nonfiction and want to break into fiction. The genres vary, but one of the common statements I hear from all these authors is,

“I’ll start blogging and get a website when my book is published.” 

If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good that you are already a blogger, so forgive me if I’m preaching to the choir. But based on several recent posts I’ve read in the blogosphere, fiction writers are beginning to ask themselves (and others) if blogging and other types of social media are really worth the time they take. Will a blog really help an author sell more books? Will a website really make an author look more professional—and does that even matter? Isn’t success really about writing a good book? Continue reading “Should Fiction Writers Bother with Blogs and Websites?”

I Am So Honored!

ID-100125744Imagine my surprise this morning when I found my name mentioned in a new blog post!

Cindy Pasquelene, who writes at The Writer Backblogger, was one of the winners of last week’s drawing for free editing. Cindy sent the first 1,500 words of her NaNoWriMo novel for my feedback, and . . .

See what Cindy had to say about the experience at The Writer Backblogger.

I spend some time every morning searching Twitter, blogs, and the Internet for interesting things to post on my Facebook page. If you aren’t already a fan, I hope you’ll check it out here.