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The Writer’s Platform – Part 1

This post was originally published on Live to Write – Write to Live where I blog about writing and publishing with a diverse group of literary friends. 

This is the first in a series of posts about building and maintaining your writer’s “platform.” Stay tuned for more gory details.

What does it take to land a publishing deal these days?

Once upon a time, the most common answers may have included “great writing” and “connections.” While each of these definitely has some bearing on publishing success, the latest buzzword when it comes to catching the eye of an agent or publisher is “platform.”

What exactly is platform?
If you google “what is a writer’s platform,” you’ll get over 440,000 hits and dozens of different definitions:

  • What a writer stands for (a la the political platform)
  • What a writer is known for (as in niche expertise)
  • Who a writer is (in terms of personality)
  • An existing audience that’s hungry for your book
  • The thing that gives you credibility
  • Your overall public presence

Confused yet? Don’t worry. As an aspiring author, I’ve read a good deal about “platform,” and I’ve come to the conclusion that none of these answers is 100% correct. In my humble opinion, a writer’s platform is actually a well-integrated combination of all these things.

Why do you need a platform?
In case you haven’t heard, the publishing world has experienced something of an Armageddon over the past few years. Recent polls show that getting a contract from a publisher is now 270% more difficult than retrieving the Golden Fleece from the Hydra. No longer is it enough to write brilliantly in a highly marketable genre or on a massively relevant topic. Today, writers must also prove their marketing savvy and prowess. They must demonstrate an ability to sell books, thereby decreasing the publisher’s risk and making the writer a more attractive gamble.

How do I get me one of them platforms?
Building a platform is a 5-step process:

  1. Define who you are as a writer – what you write, what you represent, what you offer to your readers.
  2. Research your market – who is already playing in this space, how they define themselves, where are the “holes” in the market?
  3. Develop a “uniqueness” strategy – what special benefits do you deliver, what’s different about your story, what special expertise do you have, how does your personality play into the pitch?
  4. Build the platform foundation – an online hub, a social media presence, offline credentials (i.e., teaching and speaking), press coverage, etc.
  5. Nurture your “tribe” – make connections, build relationships, encourage word-of-mouth promotion, invite collaborations

None of this is really rocket science. Platform is all about knowing who you are, what you have to offer, where you can reach your audience, and how you can build your credibility and marketability by creating a viable readership before you’re book hits the shelves.

What’s your experience with “platform?”

Want more?

Writer’s Platform Part 2: Nitty-gritty on how, where, and when to build one
Writer’s Platform Part 3: How it all works together
Writer’s Platform Part 4: Getting the most out of your platform

 

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Image Credit: marfis75

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who, among other things, works as a marketing strategist and copywriter. She helps small businesses, start-ups, artists, and authors with branding, platform development, content marketing and social media. She also blogs. A lot. She is a mom, a singer, and a dreamer who believes in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Look her up on facebook or follow her on twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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4 Comments

  1. Great series Jamie! This is definitely on my agenda for 2012.

    • Jamie Lee

      Thanks, Sandi. It’s an important foundation to put under your vision. Glad you’re enjoying it. Feel free to ping me with any specific questions – I’d be happy to help! :)

  2. This is great information . . . and something I struggle with because I’m interested in, passionate about so many different things. Was thinking about this today, actually, trying to just pick one single thing. Or at least find where my interests intersect.

    p.s. I sure am enjoying connecting with you here and there.

    • Jamie Lee

      The great news, Jeanne, is that you can absolutely weave multiple interests into a single platform – you just need to be deliberate about it. It can be a fun process – like building your own “house” or even “kingdom.” 😉

      I’m enjoying connecting with YOU here and there, too! Love the variety of “hang outs.”

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