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"Required reading" for today's smart writer. As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Daily Blog Tips, Write to Done, Technorati, WOW! and other popular sites.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

5 Ways to Build a Platform (and a bigger writing career)


If you're like the typical freelance writer, you probably envision your articles, essays, clever commentary and poems as one day leading up to a book deal with a traditional publisher and a guest spot on the late Show.

Who wouldn't?
There's certainly nothing wrong with wishful thinking, or lofty goals.
But, in order to make those book publishing dreams a reality, building a platform is an absolute must.

I learned the hard way.
Some time ago, upon the convincing of one of my long-time editors, I submitted a self-help proposal on relationships, (based upon 10 years of writing about mating and dating), to a roster of New York agents. I eagerly awaited their green light for the entire manuscript, and my "John Hancock" on the dotted line.

Much to my surprise, I got a fair amount of positive feedback and initial interest.
But at the end of the day, no one would sign me on as a client. The reason? I didn't have a strong enough platform. One agent actually wrote, “You have obvious talent as a writer, but your platform is not strong enough.”

Needless to say, I was a little shocked and disappointed. Up until that point, my only real references to “platforms” were the high steppin', klunky shoes that surfaced on the scene with the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever! Remember?

But as they say in law, “ignorance is no defense.” Since that day, I've been working diligently to raise my awareness and my visibility. And you should too.

A platform is simply a following or fan base for your works. Publishers look at it to assess potential sales and revenue. Their objective?

R.O.I. ---Return on investment.

It's almost as important as good writing. Which is why you see so many celebrities with no prior writing experience landing lucrative publishing contracts.
Establishing a platform gives you leverage as a new-comer, not to mention, it allows you to make money through name association.
Noted author Christina Katz defines it further as, “all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential or actual readership.”

“If you build it they will come.”

Here are 5 ways to build a platform and elevate your writing career.

1. Write well and often---Like any other industry, you have to pay your
dues. The more you write the better you become. The better you become, the more readers you attract.

2. Realize that all writing credits are not created equally---Though it's great to get a byline and a few bucks from lesser known publications that are easier to break into, know that a publishing credit from Associated Content is not viewed the same as one from Writers Digest. Come out of your comfort zone, and aim higher.

3. Have an online presence through a website or Blog---Even if it's something modest, having an on line presence can elevate visibility to the 10th power, and maximize earning potential. Use your site to sell books, promote classes or events, and to expose the world to your unique writing style and voice.

4. Join social networking sites like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. Increase your popularity and your reach. There is strength in numbers.

5. Teach classes and workshops---It's another way to establish your expertise and to cultivate a loyal following.


By following these five tips, you'll show potential publishers that you're marketing savvy and someone worthy of their interest and investment!

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for the wonderful tips, Jennifer! I need to review what I've been doing along these lines. Thanks for the encouragement. Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 9, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Karen,

      Sounds like you have a good game plan in the
      process. :-) I appreciate your time and feedback.

      Delete
  2. You are such a motivator. Thanks for the tips.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      Linda,

      You're such a "sweet talker". :-) Thanks for keeping "me" motivated!

      Delete
  3. Jennifer,

    You are right on the money as usual. I found this out too after self publishing several books. I have been doing exactly the things youhave listed because I found out that you have to go after what you want. It's not enough being a talented writer. Thanks for the reminder sister. Keep it coming.

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  4. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Charmaine,

    How wonderful of you! I'm so glad you've been encouraged and enlightened by my posts. It's always a treat to hear from you and I do wish you much continued success! Stay strong. :-)

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  5. Jen, love your reference to the SNF 'clunky shoes.' LOL You know the little tiny piece of stuff on the bottom of a stiletto heel? That's about the size of my platform right now and about as shaky. But I'm moving up from there! I have a loyal fan or two and that keeps me motivated. Thanks for your (always) timely advice.

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    Replies
    1. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 9, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      Susan,

      Count me among those fans! Thanks for adding to the mix here.:-)

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the practical tips Jennifer,

    O.K. as a guy steppin' klunky shoes, wasn't exactly my first association with a Platforms. For me a Platform is more something like a Launching Platform, for a Space Craft or something like that :)

    Btw. Reminds me of some funny 'Trivia', de Infra Sounds of a Space Craft Launch makes that Aligators near a Launching Platform make strange low sounding noises to defend their territory because they probably think that the low Infra Sounds of a Launch is some big Aligator invading their territory.

    Anyway,

    'Last month I wrote
    a somewhat related post...,'


    http://hpshappywriting2.blogspot.com/2011/11/so-what-posts-are-actually-most-popular.html

    about how you can use a Blog to increase Popularity and Visuability as a Platform to work from, with also some info about how you can (pre) sell Books on a Blog by Writing Book Reviews with also some info about Public Speaking and Speaking in Teleseminars as a way of increasing Visibility. (with also a link to a great resource where you can see examples of great Speakers on Stage)

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  7. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 10, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    HP,

    It's always good to hear from you and get your thoughtful feedback and suggestions. Thanks much!

    ReplyDelete
  8. According to the highly paid speakers I've been listening to, writing a book of any kind is another way to build a platform and a HUGE cash flow. That should be fairly easy for writers. However, producing a book would be a drop in the bucket for writers with blogs like yours with very specific topics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, some speakers can make an interesting amount of money, and an author/speaker with a Blog - and especially when you also have a (Published) Book about a specific topic - can provide you with

      'Instant Expert Status.'

      Delete
  9. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 10, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    Thanks much, Marcie for your input.

    ReplyDelete