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

Last week’s post defined the “writer’s platform,” explained why you need one, and outlined – on a high-level – the process of building one. This week, we’re getting a bit more nitty-gritty.

Where do I build this platform?
Much of today’s promotional activities take place online, but there is still much to be said for Real World interactions. A truly integrated platform – the kind that gets agents and publishers salivating – is one that combines online media, traditional media, and Real World appearances. Some of the building blocks for a writer’s platform may, for instance, include:

  • Online: a Web site, a blog, banner advertising on relevant sites, an article marketing campaign, information products
  • Social Media: a Facebook fan page, a Twitter presence (possibly including an author-hosted hashtag event), a blog tour, guest posts on relevant blogs, a LinkedIn presence
  • Traditional Media: print articles, interviews, and ads; local TV appearances; broadcast radio shows; traditional PR to all these channels
  • Real World Appearances: Speaking engagements (trainings, community groups, conferences, etc.), teaching opportunities (academic, corporate, or community), event participation (local literary fairs, for instance)

It’s a lot to take in. I know. There’s technology to deal with, your fear of public speaking, and the monstrous task of coordinating all these efforts. To quote Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic.” There is a lot to learn and do, but you don’t have to do it all at once.

When do I need to do all this?
There are plenty of book promoting “gurus” out there who make their living selling “instant platform” solutions to unwary authors. Don’t be fooled. There is no quick way to build a platform. Because of this truth, the best time to start building your platform (and your community) is way before you need it.

  • Start with the basics –Do your self-assessment and market research homework before you dive into the world of shiny social media tools and celebrity appearances.
  • Start small – Pick two to three items from your platform building task list and focus on those.
  • Start and don’t stop – Consistency is a critical element in any successful marketing. It’s like the old adage says, “Showing up is half the battle.”
  • Start expanding – As you become comfortable with each new piece of your platform, start organically adding on the next. Are your Web site and blog humming along nicely? Add a Facebook page and see about getting a speaking gig.

When will I find the time?
I won’t lie to you. Building and maintaining a platform takes time – both in a chronological sense, and in terms of the number of hours you’re going to clock. However, if you’re serious about getting your book published, you’re going to have to shake a lot of hands and kiss a lot of babies; but when you can wow a publisher with your marketing savvy, market reach, and impressive following it’ll be worth every minute.

Do you have a writer’s platform? What has been the most challenging aspect of building it? What has been the most rewarding?

Next Week: Gory details on the process.

Image Credit: mai05

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.