What is a Platform?

The whole concept of building a following can be overwhelming at times, and there really isn’t much solid advice out there. However, a writer’s platform is not the complicated concept that many turn it into.

A writer’s platform is NOT marketing, promotion, or publicity. It’s not just a website or social media — for that matter, it’s not just your books. A writer’s platform is everything that you do to connect with readers.

It’s your local writers’ group that you attend once a month, or more frequently, as the case may be. It’s those conferences and book festivals that you save your pennies for so you can afford the registration. It’s your participation in special events that have nothing to do with writing and your books.

Yes, a writer’s platform includes your books, website, and social medial, and yes, this online component in today’s market is important, but it’s not everything.

In building a platform, the first step is to sit down and breathe. You have a lot of decisions to make. If you forget to breathe, you will go blue in the face.

Next, you need to consider what you want to achieve in the long term, and I don’t mean the goal of being published. If that was your endgame goal, you could easily achieve it within a matter of months. I’m talking about goals like seeing your book on the self of your local bookstore next to your favorite author. Or seeing your fantasy story turned into an anime series. Believe it or not, your long-term goals will dictate some of the steps you make now.

Say you want to be the next Dr. Seuss. Activities such as Twitter are not going to help you connect with your audience. However, going to local schools and reading your stories to the children will.

Regardless where you are along this path, there are some key things that you need to remember.

A writer’s platform is not just your online presence.

Those that think having an author’s platform means “having an active online presence only” are missing the point. You need to be visibly active, yes, but if being active means getting out and talking to kids, or helping out in your local community, then that’s what it involves. Don’t ever let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

A writer’s platform is ever-changing.

Always remember that what you do now will not necessarily be suitable in the future. Your platform, however it manifests itself, needs to reflect your current situation, developing and growing along with you and your writing.

A writer’s platform is about more than just writing.

We write our stories in hopes that the public will read them, not just other writers. If you were to post nothing but snippets about writing on your personal feeds, then that will be all your prospective readers will see. You need to be much more than just writing to attract the right kind of reader to your work.

Not only that, you, as a person, are more than just a writer. All aspects of who you are will contribute to that precious platform, because it makes you a real person and one that your readers can can relate to.

In everything that you do, let your personality shine through.

What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

Everyone is different, so a writer’s platform is far from a one-size-fits-all situation. Others will attempt to provide you with all the advice in the world, but you need to find what works for you.

It’s not going to happen overnight.

The concept of an overnight success is a fallacy. There’s a line from the 1980s TV series Fame that I think sums it up best:

You’ve got give dreams. You want Fame. Well, Fame costs — and right here is where you start paying — in sweat.

It takes a lot of hard work to make anything of what you are doing. As such, ensure that all your activities, both online and offline, are things that you enjoy doing. If you enjoy what you do, then eventually others will enjoy it too.

A writer’s platform is about the long-term game. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, but don’t push so hard that you set yourself up to fail. While it is important to remember you long-term goals, you need to build your platform for the present.

This tip is one of the many tips found in Hidden Traps: A Writer’s Guide to Protecting Your Online Platform by Judy L Mohr.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017

Posted in General Advice, Hidden Traps, Social Media, Writer Platform and tagged , , , .

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