Everyone hates the word platform. But stay with me here. If you're a writer, you need one. These days, only the top 10% or less of writers have people who do all the marketing for them. Let's face it, the rest of us have to market. And you have to have a sphere of influence to market to. So here are some things you can do.
7 Proven Tips for Building a Platform Before You're Published
1. Plan to spend an hour each day on building a platform. Think of it aspre-published marketing. You may as well get used to it; once you do get a contract, you'll be spending hours marketing. That's in addition to writing the next book.
Editors will look for your online presence. Besides your website or blog, you want them to find a large Internet presence. Spend time web surfing and commenting on blogs. Each time you leave a comment or publish a blog entry, you leave a Google stamp of your name.
2. Find something no one else is doing. When I first started writing, not much was online about how author's got published. Most interviews were in print magazines, and no one blogged about their writing journey. In 2005, Gina Holmes, decided to chronicle her first novel journey. She soon realized for all the work it demanded, there were three readers, and I was two of them. We talked about it and she decided to interview some authors. Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) was born. She soon brought me and Jessica Dotta, on board so we had fresh articles every day. The rest is history.
3. What can you do to make yours unique? Combine interviews with a favorite hobby, or charity. Have you wanted to fund a home for retired cloggers? Perhaps you love Olympic curling. Find novels that have athletes in them and interview the author. Do you raise bees? Feature a video from The Sting. The point is to integrate your hobby, other job, and/or passion into your blog to draw another segment of the market. You'll have a built-in fan base when your debut novel releases.
4. Set how often you'll blog and keep to it. Best is every day, but if that won't happen go for once a week or partner with a few other writers. Find authors in your genre and start a genre blog, like Kill Zone where some great thriller authors blog.
Author Michelle Griep does short blog posts Monday through Thursday. On Friday she does a vlog (video blog post). Her blog, Writer off theLeash, is informative and her wry humor shines through.
5. If you can join with other writers, it splits the workload. We split the work between three of us when we started Novel Journey. We posted new interviews each day. Then, we added teaching posts by authors we had previously interviewed but who had new novels to promote. Now, we have a regular crew of 29 and our own writing contest.
5. Follow other blogs. Another way to build your Internet presence is commenting on blogs. Lots of them. One very clever author, Bonnie Calhoun, realized the potential for marketing through blog tours. She amassed a large contingency of bloggers and contacted a number of publishers, who supplied the books for reviews posted. Most of these bloggers are writers and building platforms for themselves.
6. Network and trade links with other writers. Join a professional writers organization like ACFW or RWA. Offer to swap posts with other members, do guest posts, and even ask what they'd like to see on your blog. The more links to your blog, the higher your Google ranking.
7. Social Media. Choose two or three and be active. There are several great sites for writers. One of my favorite social media sites is unique. Started by Nora St. Laurent, who isn't even a writer, it's called The Book Club Network (TBCN). Most of the members are book club leaders. TBCN connects them with authors. She has them share what works and doesn't in their book club. Besides offering a tremendous resource for book clubs, one of these days, she'll write a book and will already have a platform in place.
So get creative and get busy so when your book is completed, you'll have your marketing platform in place.
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, bestselling novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fictionwebsite, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.