20 July 2009

Guest Post: Platforms

Today we have the last of our guest post series for while I'm away. In a curious twist of fate, as this post posts I'll actually be very nearly at the house of this guest blogger! How random is that? (Yes, random. I promise. I actually didn't plan for it to work out this way :P)

Introducing Liana Brooks, sci fi writer who blogs over at Liana Brooks and is also a member of Book Faire, talking to us today about what a platform is, and where we can get one ;)

What is a platform and can I buy it at the hardware store?

So there you are, sweet-innocent-young-author-You. You are aquiver with anticipation because you’ve just finished your first novel and it’s perfect. You’ve done everything you need to do, no lectures about editing and multiple drafts for you!

And then, there it is, the flaw in your flawless plan. Perfect Agent wants to know: Do you have a platform?

Cue the panic!

Wait! Come back! I was joking! You don’t need to panic. A platform really isn’t that scary. And you can start it now.

For a fiction writer (non-fic we’ll save for another day) your platform is made from three main elements:

1) Your Personal Brand
2) Your Web Presence
3) Your Physical Presence

Let’s break it down….

Your Brand
This is simple. Who is J.K. Rowling? The lady who got rich on Harry Potter. Right! That’s a brand. When someone says a name and you instantly know the book, genre, and writing style.

Love her or hate her, JKR has a brand name.

Now make yours.

Pick a genre, a style, and a name to write under. Stick with them. You can always branch out later, but for the first five years or so, stick with one genre.

Your Web Presence
You cannot be the last member of the human race to get on the internet. More and more publishing is going digital, and if an agent or reader can’t find you on the internet your career won’t go anywhere.

Bare minimum, get a blog and an e-mail for writing. Make the e-mail address professional, preferably just your name. But definitely nothing X-rated, suggestive, or vague. CutesyKitten06@yaknow.com is not a good e-mail to send queries under.

What should you blog about? That depends on what your expertise is. And what kind of brand you want to build. What you don’t want to blog about is: your private life (keep that for a private blog), how much you hate Famous Person (it’ll come back to bite you), how trashy another genre is (you’ll lose readers).

I write science fiction, so my blog has a science focus. I address issues between science and fiction and then I blog about what I know about writing. I’ll put up posts on editing or inspiration or research. And that works for me. Find what works for you.

Also on the web are Facebook and Twitter. By the time your novel hits the shelf you need to be there under the name you publish under. Make your public persona available to your growing fan base. The more they love you, the more they buy.

And, by the time book two comes out, you really do need a website. If possible, have the website before Book 1 hits the shelves. But absolutely no later than Book 2.

Your Physical Presence
This has two parts:
1) Your book
2) You

On the back flap (or inside cover of the HC books) you will see a picture of the author. Do yourself a favor and get a good picture. Your writing and your physical image make up part of your physical presence.

The second part is you. You need to be accessible to your growing fan base. Do book signings where you can. If you’re going road tripping this summer with the family try to schedule an afternoon or three signing books in towns you’ll visit. Make sure all the local book sellers know who you are and when you’re available to come promo your work.

Connect with the local library and any local book groups. Get your name and face out there!

Network over the internet with other authors. Support other authors and they’ll support you.

If your regular life permits, attend conferences.

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Being author in our current publishing environment means being willing to interact with your fans. You are more than a faceless creature behind the mask of characters. Fantastic writing isn’t enough to hold reader’s attention in the six month drought between books. You have to stay connected!

So tell me: what have you done or are doing to create a platform? Do you think you need one?


Rie said...

Great post, Liana.

Yunaleska said...

I have two blogs, one writing (fun), one review blog. I twitter. None of it is under my writing name (still probably using my pen-name, haven't yet decided). But I'm becoming quite active on all three sites, so I'm starting out.

Danyelle said...

I have three blogs, I tweet, and I'm on facebook. And I'm looking into hiring some minions. >:)

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