The Building Blocks of a Good Writer's Platform
Starting with a Game Plan
I have shared this before but it is worth repeating, so if you’ve heard it before, my apologies.
When I started as a professional writer three years ago, I read an article that discussed platforms and plans. The abridged version went something like this: writing is a long and difficult journey, and a writer needs to have a long-range plan. In order to succeed, one needs to incorporate, in that plan, the basic building blocks of a writer’s platform.
That made sense to me because I thrive on organization. I love to write down reminder notes, and I am good at scheduling….and I’m probably a bit anal…so this sounded like something I could do.
The article continued by telling me that a writer’s platform is my visibility as a writer. It is my body of work, but it is also my personal ability to sell articles or books. It is who I am as a writer, my connections, my work, and my reputation.
I wanted to know more, and I was not disappointed. The article went on to tell me the key aspects of a good writer’s platform, and I have tried to stay true to that article for the past three years. Now I’m going to share it with you as well, plus toss in a couple observations that I believe are important.
Are you ready? Then let’s begin building your platform.
Great example of an online newsletter
Run by prolific writer and author C. Hope Clark, FundsForWriters is an award-winning source of numerous grants, fellowships, contests, awards, markets and
Important book for anyone wanting to write for magazines
Let’s amend this and say a blog or website.
A blog establishes in the minds of readers, agents, editors, and publishers, that you are a player with serious game. I’m sorry if you don’t like technology. I’m sorry if you’re stuck in the past and would love a world without computers. The simple fact is that if you do not have an online presence, you are like a caveman walking around Manhattan.
You may or may not do this, but it is suggested. Newsletters are a lot of work, but they will, eventually, garner a following, and a following is what writers want and need. One of the newsletters I follow faithfully is written by author Hope Clark, and it is called “Funds for Writers.” Check it out and you’ll see how effective this building block can be.
ARTICLE AND COLUMN WRITING FOR THE MEDIA
You will not get a sniff from the big boys, so start small. Forget about sending query letters to Time Magazine. Send query letters to Time Out Magazine in Skokie, Illinois, and then work your way up the food chain. Forget about writing for the New York Times and instead consider writing for the New York Underground Messenger. Once you get that first byline then you can try biting off a bigger chunk.
You are invited to write on my blog
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips and suggestions for writers
CONTRIBUTIONS TO OTHER WEBSITES AND BLOGS
It’s all about visibility my friends, so any old time you find an author offering their site to you, take that offer. You want your name circulated as often as possible. Writing for other websites and blogs will do that for you and, my God, it’s free! Who can say no to free advertising?
A STRONG RECORD OF PAST BOOK SALES
If you don’t write books then skip this. If you do write books, a past record of strong readership will impress the hell out of an agent or publisher. There is a rumor floating around that agents and publishers are not impressed with ebook sales. Not so! If you are consistently selling tens of thousands of ebooks, believe me, they will pay attention.
We aren’t talking about any old networking. We are, instead, talking about networking with serious players in this writing game. If your goal is to advance in writing, then you need to rub shoulders with those who have already advanced.
A partial list of writing organizations
- Writers' Organizations
Writers' Associations and Organizations -- Writers Write(R)-- The Write Resource(TM)
I know….I know….most writers not only don’t want to be seen, but the idea of public speaking is like asking them to sell their firstborn.
There are many opportunities for public speaking in your community. Rotary Clubs, local writing clubs….begin small and again, work your way up the ladder.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Twitter, Facebook, and a whole lot of “friends”…..distasteful at times….annoying at times….seems like busywork at times….seems disingenuous at times…but in the year 2014, it is totally necessary.
Believe me, agents, editors and publishers pay attention to this stuff, so you should as well.
MEMBERSHIP IN WRITING ORGANIZATIONS
There are many benefits awaiting you in writing organizations. You will make contacts within the writing community. You will receive invaluable information about writing. You will find ways to advance your career….and….you will give the appearance that you really are serious about writing….that you are a professional. Check out the link to the right if you are interested in giving it a try.
Television, radio, newspapers, online publications, they are all there for you to take advantage of. Sure it requires some effort on your part, but just think of the number of people (potential readers) you will reach with each appearance.
PERSONAL CONTACTS IN THE BUSINESS
What is the best form of advertising? In my opinion, it is word of mouth. I read somewhere that my goal should be to have one-hundred die-hard followers who will follow me into the gates of hell, because those followers will each tell ten more, and now my reputation has some serious legs.
Get out and meet people. Tell them you are a writer. Let them get to know you as a person, as a real human being. Writing is a very personal art form. A relationship is formed between the writer and the reader, and you can form that relationship before anyone even reads your work….by getting out there and making contacts.
IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS
Now those first eleven were nice, and there is no doubt they are helpful, but…..
If you are serious about being a successful writer, then don’t forget to improve your writing skills.
Here is the worst case scenario I can think of: you work hard at all eleven aforementioned building blocks. You put months and years building your platform…only to find out you really can’t write.
Are there examples of poor writers being successful? Yes, there have been some one-hit wonders who had a great idea that sold, even though their writing skills left much to be desires….but….and again with the but….long-term success will only happen if you have writing skill.
Writing is an art form. Treat it like one, and become the best writer you can be. All the other tips mentioned above are just smoke and mirrors compared to the nitty gritty of being a good writer.
I Hope That Was Helpful
I’m just finishing up my third year of a five-year plan. I’m right on schedule. If it takes 10,000 hours to become great at a craft, then my 7,000 hours puts me, again, right on schedule.
How about you? How does your platform look? Does it only have two legs to stand on? Three? All four? Is the foundation mixed properly and poured with care? Are you using quality materials to build with?
I wish you well. I want you to find success. I want you to….spread your wings and fly.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”